Today, on the heels of countless rumors in the blogosphere, Google announced its plans to revolutionize the mobile phone. It’s called Android and it’s really not a Google Phone at all. It’s a mobile operating system (somewhat similar to Windows Mobile) for other phone manufactures. The announcement of Android came paired with announcement of the Open Handset Alliance, a conglomeration of over 30 mobile manufacturers and developers who promote open source mobile phone development.
What does this mean? Let’s let Google’s Android team explain.
Recently, Symbian, Nokia, Microsoft, and Apple noted that they don’t perceive the open Android platform as a threat. However, the countless modifications to Apple’s locked-down iPhone would tell us otherwise. If it wasn’t for programs like Jailbreak and Install.app, the iPhone would still be without instant messaging, pseudo-GPS, games, themes, and much more. Developers, hackers, and users alike are all pushing towards open source development not solely for personal usability and customization, but also for the greater advancement of technology on the whole. A few companies can’t and shouldn’t control what kind of technology reaches the consumer’s pocket. Companies like these need to get on the open source bandwagon before customers leave them all together.
America seems to be the furthest behind in mobile technology. Any trip to Japan will prove it. In fact, America seems to be one of the only places where phones are locked to a specific carrier. In most parts of Europe, the consumer buys a phone from of manufacturer and then takes it to a carrier of their choice. It seems like Android, along with other advances (such as Nokia’s retail store on N. Michigan Avenue that sells only unlocked phones), might be a step in the right direction for the States.
While most of us have come to expect great things from Google, few of us have actually had the chance to see Android in action. Just how are different mobile companies going utilize the software? And from a Google standpoint, how is Google going to incorporate ads into the phone? While Android is promising, we should wait until 2008 to see how it truly performs in the wild.