Google Releases "Android" Mobile Phone OS

Hoping to do for the mobile environment what it has done for information searches, travel directions, and blind dates, Google announced on Monday the release of a new mobile operating system known as "Android," as well as the formation of a new coalition, the Open Handset Alliance, to implement the new OS and develop applications for it.

According to Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm, the new mobile OS is based on Linux and contains a Web browser, video player, instant-messaging application, and several other features.

Google's Android OS is the outgrowth of a mobile software project started three years ago by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Andy Rubin. His company, Android, was acquired by Google in August 2005 for an undisclosed amount in a move that was widely seen as the opening play of Google's wireless plans.

Free and Open Source

"The new OS is totally open source and completely free," Sterling said. "It will totally radicalize the cost of developing applications for mobile phones. The Google mobile OS is dramatically simpler, and much easier to adapt to different hardware equipment and protocols."

He added that the software developer's kit for Android will be available as early as next week, and that the Android OS could appear on consumer products as early as mid-2008.

Although several Google applications will ship with copies of Android, they can be stripped out by carriers, equipment manufacturers, or even the end user. "With Android," Sterling pointed out, "there is no single user experience; companies can use the OS to create individual and even branded experiences for their customers."

As impressive as the development of a mobile OS is, Google's real accomplishment is the creation of such a broad mobile coalition. More than 30 different companies have signed up as members of the Open Handset Alliance, with representatives from equipment manufacturers, carriers, software developers, and commercialization partners.

There are some notable mobile players missing from the OHA so far. The largest equipment manufacturer, Nokia, is still on the sidelines, and two companies deeply involved in the mobile space, Microsoft and Yahoo, have adopted a "wait-and-see" approach.

Microsoft has particular reason to be concerned about the release of Android, Sterling pointed out, because it is a direct competitor to the company's Windows Mobile. Sterling said that he expects that companies such as Nokia and even Microsoft ultimately will join the alliance, particularly if consumers react favorably to Android.

"The promise of Android," he suggested, "is that it will give consumers control over their mobile experience that they don't currently have." The new OS, for instance, will make it easier for users to share applications with their friends, Sterling explained, much like they do now on Facebook.

source: yahoo

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