The first phone using Google's Android operating system will debut Tuesday, a model from T-Mobile, and more are set come. But some Android partners say the software will use more broadly than just phones.
"We're starting to see Android get designed in on devices that extend way beyond the phone--things that might go in the automobile or things that might go in the home," said John Bruggeman, chief marketing officer at Wind River Systems, a Google ally that helps phone makers build and customize Android for their phone hardware.
It's not clear yet whether Google shares this broader Android ambition--the emphasis today is for mobile phones--but extending into new areas could increase both the prominence and competitive threat of the project. However, projects that spread wider also can be stretched thinner, and advantages such as broader developer interest could be offset by incompatibilities other drawbacks.
Bruggeman declined to share specifics about which Internet-connected devices might employ the operating system, but he did mention TVs and set-top boxes as well as cars. And he was confident some will arrive next year.
"I don't want to pre-announce any design wins," he said. "I think you'll see them in 2009. I would be shocked if you didn't."
Google didn't immediately responds to a request for comment.
Of course, Android is mostly open-source software, so there's nothing stopping people from doing anything they want with it. But Wind River is a notable member of the 34-company Open Handset Alliance that Google gathered to build, support, and use Android.
Wind River has years of experience with so-called embedded operating systems, starting with its own VxWorks and eventually extending to include Linux, which underlies Android. It's also got a lot of customers, and to beef up its Android support services, Wind River acquired mobile Linux firm Mizi Research in August for a price it said could reach $16 million. … Read more