Google goes mobile with Android plan

Google goes mobile with Android plan

Open source operating system for mobile phones aims to encourage new applications

Google is leading the development of an open source mobile phone platform that it hopes will boost innovation by encouraging a new generation of software developers.

Android is an operating system for mobile devices, designed by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), a partnership of 34 technology companies including Qualcomm, Motorola and T-Mobile. An early version of the system’s software development kit was made available this week.

By distributing Android and its associated tools for free, Google hopes to persuade developers to write programs for it.

The open model will also allow entrepreneurs to reach a large consumer base without sacrificing their ownership rights, said Android co-founder Rich Milner.

“The Apache licence we are using will enable people with strong enterprise software to bring their applications to the Android platform without open-sourcing their intellectual property,” he said.

“With the release of our software development kit we will enable a broad community of developers to build mobile applications using third-party tools, in the same way that YouTube allowed anyone to post and distribute video.”

But for all the claims of innovation, Google must convince people it has something genuinely new to offer, said Ovum analyst Adam Leach.

“We’ve had open platforms in the past and they haven’t made consumers want to buy additional services, so it’s hard to see this as an original idea that will act as a panacea,” he said.

Uptake will be key to Android’s success, but Google may have to wait for its target market to grow.

“Looking at the hardware requirements, Google is targeting the higher end of the mid-tier market. There is likely to be at least a two-year delay before they can hit that mass-market sweet spot,” said Leach.