Google Makes Mobile Move

Possibly trying to take its Internet dominance to the mobile sector, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) unleashed today an open-source mobile software platform called Android and a 34-member Open Handset Alliance to support its development.

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
Aplix Corp.
Ascender Corp.
Broadcom Corp.
China Mobile Communications Corp.
eBay Inc.
High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC)
Intel Corp.
KDDI Corp.
LG Electronics Inc.
Marvell Technology Group Ltd.
Motorola Inc.
NMS Communications Corp.
NTT DoCoMo Inc.
Nuance Communications Inc.
Nvidia Corp.
PacketVideo Corp.
Qualcomm Inc.
Samsung Corp.
SiRF Technology Inc.
Sprint Nextel Corp.
Synaptics Inc.
The Astonishing Tribe (TAT)
Telecom Italia SpA
Telef�nica de Espa�a
Texas Instruments Inc.
T-Mobile International AG
Wind River Systems Inc.
Source: Google

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

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 2:59:22 PM
re: Google Makes Mobile Move Anyone disappointed?

Obviously Google wants this whole project to turn into ad revenues eventually. In the short term, it at least opens up the possibility for more complete Web-browsing capabilites on handsets.

Wonder if the iPhone, even though it's only a tiny slice of the market, helped drive some of these companies to join the alliance.
freetoair 12/5/2012 | 2:59:20 PM
re: Google Makes Mobile Move No dissapointment.
I think this is the right strategy for Google.
They can drive innovation without barriers (will at least moving toward breaking down some of the operators barriers for new MS on networks).

One could argue iPhone strategy vs Google. Jobs clearly believes (as he has since the early days of Apple) that a fully integrated HW/SW solution is the only way to reach the ultimate cool. And he is probably right for the most part. But then again if he thought differently (like Gates), then he may have been the richest man in the world for the last 15 years. :-) But what would he do with another $45B anyway - he has the stardom.

Also funny how MSFT is always the bad guy nowadays - but anyone remember the MSFT vs IBM battles? Quote from MS guys is correct, it is alot harder than it looks in the mobile biz, and Google has a long way to go. Should be pretty interesting to see the initial products -- and more interesting to see the services enabled.
lrmobile_Nuance 12/5/2012 | 2:59:20 PM
re: Google Makes Mobile Move Nuance joined the Open Handset Alliance with other industry leaders to grow the entire mobile ecosystem. WeGÇÖre committed to apply our strength and leadership in voice-based search and messaging to move the market forward. By packaging and optimizing embedded speech technology components for open source distribution, weGÇÖve given developers the opportunity to access speech solutions through open APIs using the Android platform and to easily upgrade to new, more advanced speech features as well. We believe deep collaboration with members of the Alliance will grow our core mobile business and fuel the proliferation of speech-enabled applications worldwide.
Honestly 12/5/2012 | 2:59:19 PM
re: Google Makes Mobile Move Sometimes these initiaves are started for marketing spin and some times for GOOD reason. Time will tell If we need to care about more than finding a company that sells a Gphone pop up blocker.

Yup ATT, Apple missing with some others. If ATT service did not suck I would have and Iphone, but it does and I don't.

Good luck trying to out job Jobs. Stick to great search, ads and bad content delivery. Improve Google earth, its almost as cool as Apple.
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