updated 09:45 am EST, Fri January 30, 2009
Fujitsu Built for Android
Fujitsu has revealed that it plans to push Google's Android platform deep into home electronics with a new initiative known as Services Built for Android. The program will see the Japanese company offer its consulting, engineering and other expertise to help run the open-source mobile OS on embedded hardware. This could include media devices like portable media players as well as cellphones, GPS devices, set-top boxes and even thin-client PCs, according to Fujitsu.
The services should involve major work such as designing new user interfaces and accessing online services. Fujitsu sees itself as speeding up the development time for Android-based devices and helping them get to market sooner than would be possible with companies left to themselves.
Multiple companies have already signed onboard. Embedded chip designer Freescale plans to draw on Services Built for Android to add support for its i.MX processors, which are used in shipping devices under the same portable media and set-top categories suggested by Fujitsu.
Expanding into hardware-independent Android work is potentially a sharp blow against Microsoft's Windows CE and Windows Mobile, both of which have regularly been used as the foundation of some more advanced handhelds. Android is consciously designed for touchscreen devices and for full web browsing, unlike the Windows alternatives, and is also free to use. Microsoft's code requires licensing fees and so increases the base price of hardware.
It also potentially steps up challenges to tightly controlled mobile operating systems like OS X iPhone, which until now have gone relatively unchallenged on non-phone devices such as the iPod touch. Apple has so far declined to license its software for outside devices and so opens the door to Android for third-parties who want a similar OS.