The long-awaited and much-rumored "Google Phone" was not included in the announcement, something Google executives stressed repeatedly during a press conference today. (See Google Spy: Big Team Picking Up Phone.)
Instead, Google is feeding the industry some software, which is what Unstrung has suspected for some time.
By launching such a major open-source initiative, Google has the potential to change the playing field for device operating systems. The goal is to get more applications and services to mobile devices quickly, partly by removing the barriers of proprietary software environments. (See The G-Phone Cometh, Google: Thinking Bigger Than Phones?, and G-Phone, No Strings.)
"We believe Google intends to offer mobile consumers optimized applications such as Google Search, GMail and Maps, which the company will then monetize through location-based and other mobile advertising," writes George Askew, an analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. in a research note issued today.
Android -- a Linux-based platform developed by startup Android, which Google acquired in 2005 -- comprises an operating system, middleware, and key mobile applications. It also includes a full-blown HTML Web browser.
Application developers will get their first look at the Android software development kit on November 12. Handsets and services based on the platform are expected to be available in the second half of 2008.
The alliance members include phone makers High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Samsung Corp. ; chip firms Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM); and software vendor Wind River Systems Inc. .
Table 1: Open Handset Alliance Members
|China Mobile Communications Corp.|
|High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC)|
|LG Electronics Inc.|
|Marvell Technology Group Ltd.|
|NMS Communications Corp.|
|NTT DoCoMo Inc.|
|Nuance Communications Inc.|
|SiRF Technology Inc.|
|Sprint Nextel Corp.|
|The Astonishing Tribe (TAT)|
|Telecom Italia SpA|
|Telef�nica de Espa�a|
|Texas Instruments Inc.|
|T-Mobile International AG|
|Wind River Systems Inc.|
Notably absent are Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications . Not surprisingly, the traditionally proprietary Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) isn't on the list either.
Mobile operator members include China Mobile Communications Corp. , KDDI Corp. , NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), T-Mobile International AG , Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), and Telecom Italia (TIM) .
"It is interesting to note that Verizon Wireless (in which Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) owns a 45 percent stake) has so far chosen to stay on the side-lines," states Per Lindberg, research analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort . "It may suggest that the Vodafone Group harbours ambitions to control much of the content provision itself."
As for the Google phone, company officials hedged their bets but didn't definitively say whether a phone would ever happen or not.
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung