November 5, 2007 8:13 AM PST

Google unveils cell phone software and alliance

Google unveils cell phone software and alliance
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Google's cell phone strategy took shape Monday with the announcement of a new open software platform and an alliance of wireless heavyweights that will help form the development community for the planned phones.

Google has long been rumored to be working on software for cell phones that would integrate its applications. On Friday, CNET News.com reported that Google's plans went beyond simply developing software and instead included a whole consortium of companies working to develop an open platform cell phone application.

"Today's announcement is more ambitious than any single 'Google Phone' that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement. "Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models."

Google officially unveiled Android, the new mobile phone software, during a press conference Monday morning. Thirty-four companies have said they will join the Open Handset Alliance, a multinational alliance that will work on developing applications on the Android platform. Members of the alliance include mobile handset makers HTC and Motorola, U.S. operator T-Mobile, and chipmaker Qualcomm.

The Android platform consists of an operating system, middleware, a user-friendly interface, and applications. Consumers should expect the first phones based on Android to be available in the second half of 2008, Schmidt and others said on the conference call.

The Android software stack is expected to provide handset makers and wireless operators an open platform they can use to develop innovative applications. The new software will compete directly with smartphone software from other companies like Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Palm, and Research in Motion. Unlike some of these mobile operating systems, Android will not be tied to a specific device. Instead, the software will be able to work on a broad array of devices from handset makers such as Motorola, HTC, Samsung, and LG just to name a few.

A 200MHz ARM 9 processor is the minimum requirement for cell phones, said Andy Rubin, Google director of mobile platforms who co-founded the mobile software company called Android that Google acquired in 2005. The platform will be flexible, compatible with small or large screens, keyboards and other input methods, he said.

"The user experience is top notch...We will see when the software development kit is available in a week," Rubin said. "Google will be providing some hosted services that make it very easy for third-party developers to distribute their services and content" via a USB or memory card or "over the air." He added that more information about system requirements will be available when the software development kit is released.

Asked whether Android will be targeted at smartphones or lower-cost phones, Qualcomm Chief Executive Paul Jacobs said the company was focusing on its 7225 chipset and "using that to drive smartphones into the mass market price points under $200."

The idea is that through the developer's alliance, handset makers and cell phone operators will be able to develop more user-friendly services and devices that help bring more of the Internet's functionality onto mobile devices. And because of this open model, the companies involved also hope that by scaling the development, advanced functionality will be able to hit the market for less expensive mobile devices that will have more compelling and rich Internet services with more user-friendly interfaces.

"Our participation in the Open Handset Alliance and integration of the Android platform in the second half of 2008 enables us to expand our device portfolio into a new category of connected mobile phones that will change the complexion of the mobile industry and re-create user expectations of the mobile phone experience." Peter Chou, chief executive of HTC, said in a statement.

Companies in the alliance plan on releasing an access software development kit next week.

See more CNET content tagged:
alliance, Andy Rubin, handset maker, Open Handset Alliance, Qualcomm Inc.

23 comments

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Google Phone Info Tracking?
Google tracks what people do on the net, especially if you use google desktop and some other nice tools they put out.

Will the mobile O/S just make them better at tracking everthing? They need to get something out of their O/S because free doesn't really pay the bills.
Posted by Renegade Knight (13748 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Googles Profit
I actually see this move as benefiting Google in the long run. Cell phones have become common place among the masses. Yet the innovation on this market has been struggling, especially when placing the internet on these devices. By making a more advanced OS that can connect to the internet easier, Google is opening its ad community to a new platform. Current cell phones rarely have ads placed on them, but if Google produces an alliance between carriers and hardware manufactures that makes the internet more common place, then they are in turn allowing more ads to be placed in the hands of consumers.
Posted by dgiamanco (10 comments )
Link Flag
so much for free service phones...
All this hooplah for nothing. A few weeks ago they were speculating that google will have its phone service where people will get phone service for free if they want to see ads. Now the only thing that we will get from all this is paying maybe $20 less for a phone with google's software.

Maybe it will pull a few customers from ATT and Verizon with their increase content. But if it is not free or significantly reduced price for monthly service, there's little motivation for customers to switch.
Posted by pugster (649 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I wonder
"Maybe it will pull a few customers from ATT and Verizon with their
increase content."

The iPhone has Google maps built in as an app already and on
AT&T. I have a feeling Google doesn't mind having a piece of more
than one pie at a time and wonder if those new apps will be
available for the iPhone too at some point.
Posted by Nodack (198 comments )
Link Flag
Google's Potential Growth & Untouched Business Opportunities
Google's "open source" Android software
shall provide users more opportunities to live vicariously through their mobile phones. In tracking the user's online actions, Google to give the 3D persona (avatar) detailed personality characteristics developed from the users real life online living experiences. Second Life's 3D avatar becomes boring and soon to be obsolete. Google is in a position to dominate & manipulate virtual life communities. Why?.... because Google's open application sources and the mobile phone is defining who you are by e-psycho-analyzing your online activities. See language in patents filed by Google...
"User dialog (e.g., from role playing games, simulation games, etc) may be used to characterize the user (e.g., literate, profane, blunt or polite, quiet etc). Also, user play may be used to characterize the user (e.g., cautious, risk-taker, aggressive, non-confrontational, stealthy, honest, cooperative, uncooperative, etc)."

Google's "open source" Android software
applications shall make the ad-supported
free mobile phone/web browser more viable and appealing to the market. Advertising shall be "less in your face & more part of your mentally." Free mobile phone and Internet services supported by something you are really interested in.

Google's "open source" Android software and the mobile phone is the foundation for the evolution of all facets of modern society's future lifestyles.

Shannon McPherson is a Bryn Mawr College student social activist that is campaigning for the use of ad-supported free mobile phone & Internet services to decrease the digital divide.
Posted by Shannon Michael (8 comments )
Link Flag
The government is the only thing stopping google from making free WiFi service available through the white spaces. There are reasons too and it isn't because of interference like they say. It is because of how it will effect businesses like verizon, at&t and t-mobile plus others. If it wasn't for this issue with bussiness we would have free internet. Too bad huh!
Posted by jyoungxxxx (1 comment )
Link Flag
Not A "Monkey" Business Alliance - Right!
"Google took its long-awaited plunge into the wireless world today, announcing that it is leading a broad industry alliance to transform mobile phones into powerful mobile computers that could accelerate the convergence of computing and communications..."

Watch the attached video clip and see if the 800lb Gorilla (that is OS/2) can be spotted!

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksFqjI3gyAo" target="_newWindow">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksFqjI3gyAo</a>

As per the subject line - Not A "Monkey" Business Alliance - Right! So, what else is new!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google's Internet Plan
This is all part of Google's Internet Plan. I think the move today will also have something to do with the Wi-Fi auction in the future, don't you? <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://fishtrain.com/2007/10/10/googles-internet-plan/" target="_newWindow">http://fishtrain.com/2007/10/10/googles-internet-plan/</a>
Posted by Jesse Chan (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe, maybe not.
Google's 700mhz auction seem to be conflicting with their plan with their 'open source' move. Google will have to depend on T-mobile and Sprint on the pricing and kind of service they will provide. The only thing i can see with their phone service with google software is the ability to check your gmail account and maybe using google maps as gps. As far as the pricing concern of your monthly service and what kind of content you are allowed to see, you are at the whim from T-mobile and Sprint.

Google probably should've to purchase sprint or t-mobile outright and integrate their advertising knowhow into these phones in their own terms. Google can then give customers free or almost free phone service under their own terms.
Posted by pugster (649 comments )
Link Flag
Nuance Joins Open Handset Alliance
Nuance joined the Open Handset Alliance with other industry leaders to grow the entire mobile ecosystem. We?re committed to apply our strength and leadership in voice-based search and messaging to move the market forward. By packaging and optimizing embedded speech technology components for open source distribution, we?ve given developers the opportunity to access speech solutions through open APIs using the Android platform and to easily upgrade to new, more advanced speech features as well. We believe deep collaboration with members of the Alliance will grow our core mobile business and fuel the proliferation of speech-enabled applications worldwide.
Posted by Nuance Communications (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google vs. Nokia in LBS
Alliances breed alliances.
Google's push into mobile world will meet another giant waiting there: Nokia, which recently acquired Navteq.

Mobile search will eventually converge to location-based features and behaviroal tracking.

Google's mobile alliance with Sprint makes sense, if they bid on 700MHz spectrum early next year.
Posted by Quemannn (76 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More Personal Info. for Big Brother Google's Ad Database
A New York Times article points out that "its ultimate goal is to cash in on the effort by selling advertisements to mobile phone users,..."

I'm not interested in giving Big Brother Google my personal cell phone information, for their advertising database.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed!!
I just don't get it. Why does everyone seem so anxious to turn over personal info (where you go, what you read etc..)to google? To save a couple $$ on a phone call? If the feds tried to collect this sort of info, everyone would be up in arms. I guess "free" is a big seller, til its too late. Just remember " there aint no such thing as a free lunch"!

Google may be the 800 pound gorilla, for now, who does no evil. But mutation (business model or otherwise) has a way of putting things on its head, then what becomes of your "life history" stored at Google.
Posted by trudancor (14 comments )
Link Flag
This is great
Any competition in the mobile phone market should result in lower
costs for everyone.

I'd never use one of these if it meant getting advertisements on my
phone, but I applaud the effort.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not sure I get the thrill...
As somebody who is learning to program the Symbian OS, has done Windows programming, and read about how to program for the iPhone (with the SDK coming out in Feb '08) I don't see what all the hype is about here... You would be amazed at the feature content that these OSes have available to them that current programmers haven't really taken advantge of much.

What does "open" really mean in this case? Symbian is changing the rules for signing apps this quarter, Windows apps are not that difficult to write and get on your phone, and with the iPhone SDK coming out in Feb, even if Apple makes a developer submit the app for approval, I don't see the advantage of another OS that us programmers will have to start writing for now.

And I doubt that the Android OS will really be that much better for programmers than the other OSes out there. For example: It only took me a weekend to walk through a coding example to write a basic game for the Symbian OS, and a few days to get the basics down for the UI and other API calls. That includes writing Internet access routines (one of the example code snippets from Nokia is a Web Server!). When I get seasoned, I think that I would be able to write most anything I want on that OS. So where will Android give me more? And many phones support Java in some for or another.

To me, I am thinking this is just a bunch of hype that helps Google get into the market, but not much substance over what is already out there. Programmers still have to write the code to do the "gee whiz" stuff that wows the consumer. I hate to say it, but that is why the iPhone is so popular now. It is not that technically better than any other, but has that "cool" factor because it is targeted at the average person, not the techie or business person. RIM, Nokia, and MS could have doen that too with their OSes, but didn't have the foresight. It was not a platform limitation (except for the multi-touch screen)

Now if I could buy any ARM 9 processor-based phone and reflash it to Android and get off and running with an unbranded, unlocked phone... now that would be something that would really mean "open" to me.... But it will still take time to get enough applications written to match what is out there for Symbian and Windows. And with the SDK for iPhone out in Feb there will be a ton of apps for that as well (since there are already a ton of them that are not sanctioned by Apple right now!)

Google may grab the attention of the masses with this announcement and maybe even the business community, but it will take convincing the developers (meaning programmers) to add another OS to their arsonal... and that will take time
Posted by bob1960 (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Clearly you don't get it
This will open the flood gates for mobile computing and accelerate what people can do with cell phones/mobile devices. WiMax, broadband, GPS, file sharing, monetary transactions etc. This stuff is all very limited right now and the usablity is crap.

Somtimes when you're in the woods you can't see the trees. I think you need a compus.
Posted by 00rb (11 comments )
Link Flag
I have a question
Why did Cnet omit the fact the the OS will be based on Linux?
Posted by Ricardo_NJ (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Because then it wouldn't be news.
As has been said here and at other blogs, the big problem with Google's plan is that the adopters can customize the "open" software all they want. That means that most likely each provider will make their own slight variant and it will not be truly compatible with any other's. We see this trend with the carriers now, as they hobble and customize cell phones to lock a person into a contract and turn off any features they don't want to support so you don't cry foul and take your phone to another company.

All we need is a couple dozen more customized OSes out there that claim to be open and compatible. Anybody remember all the flavors of Unix that we had to live with?
Posted by bob1960 (55 comments )
Link Flag
Not necessarily open
If you read the conference call itself, during the Q&#38;A when the question was asked if a carrier COULD release a handset with a closed version of the OS, the answer was a definitive "yes".

Given the overwhelming current trend of US carriers using proprietary technologies and closed platforms, be reminded that this announcement doesn't guarantee some kind of revolution in the way phone software is developed and distributed stateside, at least not immediately.
Posted by spm82 (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag
gPhone Picture
See a rare picture of the gPhone in action here
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://joechiappetta.blogspot.com/2007/11/gphone-first-look.html" target="_newWindow">http://joechiappetta.blogspot.com/2007/11/gphone-first-look.html</a>
Posted by joeychips (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And you are seeing a mirage
WiMax has very little over 3G as far as speed and capability. It is just a different standard and will take time to get out there. 3G isn't really that well distributed in the US yet, by a long shot. And take a look at the drop in speeds of WiMax and 3G when the phone is actually moving...

GPS is everywhere now on cell phones. I use it al the time and have at least 3 programs to choose from on my Nokia N75.

Bluetooth, WiFi, and other apps to link cell phones to other devices is also common.

All my cell phone software purchases are done via my cell phone, and the software is pushed to the device. Writing such applications is not difficult with current cell phone OSes.

And as for the ambiguous "etc" you tossed in at the end, just take a look at Jott.com for just one idea of some really potentially powerful usage.

As for the stuff out there being crap, that is subject to opinion and not the OS's fault, but programmers that crank out apps that they can charge the low fee people seem willing to pay for cell phone apps.

Have you actually ever done much research on what is out there and how it is coded? You soundlike somebody who believes the rhetoric, but have never experienced it yourself. You should at least read more from developers and programmers about their opinions on this stuff. One such software house has already gone on record as shelfing any ideas of coding for Android at this time because there isn't expected to be any money in it. Which tends to be why small development teams make up the bulk of the cell phone software market. It is not a billion dollar industry yet. Not at most all app prices under $50, and some as low as $10. People just don't want to pay big bucks for a device they only paid a few hundred dollars for, or got their company to buy for them. The major purchasers, teens and businesses, have a very limited wish list for apps so far. Give teens music, games, messaging, and YouTube and they are happy. The iPhone's limited app list at release proves this. Businesses want solid networks, email sync, and office products. Hardly a large list to make the big software houses switch from programming for the PC.

I may miss the forest for the trees occasionally, but you are in the desert looking at a mirage.
Posted by bob1960 (55 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is really nice and helpful. google software for <a href="http://www.xpert4u.co.uk/mobile/phones/">mobile phones wil be more secure and useful. You can protect your mobile phones through the viruses as well.
Posted by cristinajack (1 comment )
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