By now you may have heard of Google’s new initiative known as “Android”. Android is Google’s new project set to bring an open source mobile platform based on the Linux OS to the cell phone market. So what does this mean for the cell phone and mobile markets? Google has created an alliance called the “Open Handset Alliance” including a selection of 34 market leading hardware, software and telecom companies.
Andy Rubin, Google’s director of mobile platforms, and Android project leader said the open-source strategy would encourage rapid innovation and lower the bar to entry in the highly competitive cellphone market, where software accounts for an increasing share of the cost of making a phone.
I believe most of the excitement surrounds the fact that this is, in some fashion, an “open” project which means more support from more providers, manufacturers, developers, and applications with lower costs. However, it is still unclear how “open” it will be and it is still possible that handset makers and operators will “lock” their own release and limit use to their own services or applications. Either way, this is in sharp contrast to Apple’s iPhone which is completely shut down, locked out and restricted to anyone outside Apple.
One thing to note is that there will not be an actual Google device (“gPhone”). Instead, the platform will be freely available to developers and manufacturers who will create the mobile devices to use the Android software.
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out over the coming months and year(s).