updated 11:25 am EST, Mon November 5, 2007
Google Mobile Official
Google today announced its long-awaited initiative for mobile phones, aiming to overturn the traditionally closed approach to cellphone software design. Now called the Open Handset Alliance, the push will see 34 different companies working together to create an open-source software platform that takes away licensing fees while adding the ability to easily modify code for new devices or features. Handset makers HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung have all pledged to implement the software as part of the group; the Alliance also includes key cellular carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile in the US, Europe's Telefonica, and Japan's KDDI and NTT DoCoMo. Several component makers including Broadcom, Intel, and Qualcomm are also onboard, Google says.
The platform itself, nicknamed "Android," will be Linux-based and will include several of Google's mobile services; unlike other mobile operating systems, however, the OS will not be branded or charge users for each program. The Mountain View, California-based company will instead collect revenues from ads that appear on Android phones.
A software development kit (SDK) for programmers interested in writing programs for Open Handset Alliance phones will be available within a week and should give programmers an early start on writing interfaces and applications. This already includes support for touchscreens, GPS, and other hardware features, and can merge information from Google apps with other utilities; a social networking tool can use Google Maps to locate nearby friends, as an example. Phones shipping with the technology are expected in the second half of 2008 but have not been mentioned by name.