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November 5, 2007

Google Launches Android, an Open Mobile Platform

"Google Phone" turned out to be a mobile platform and not a phone optimized for running Google apps. "Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications -- all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation," announced Andy Rubin on the Google Blog. Android was launched as part of the Open Handset Alliance, an organization that has a lot of other important members: Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, Intel, NVIDIA, LG, Motorola, eBay, Nuance Communications and more.

The goal: "through deep partnerships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, and others, we hope to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform". The SDK will be available on November 12 and the first devices based on Android should be launched next year.

"Through Android, developers, wireless operators and handset manufacturers will be better positioned to bring to market innovative new products faster and at a much lower cost. (...) The Android platform will be made available under one of the most progressive, developer-friendly open-source licenses, which gives mobile operators and device manufacturers significant freedom and flexibility to design products. Developers will have complete access to handset capabilities and tools that will enable them to build more compelling and user-friendly services, bringing the Internet developer model to the mobile space. And consumers worldwide will have access to less expensive mobile devices that feature more compelling services, rich Internet applications and easier-to-use interfaces -- ultimately creating a superior mobile experience," explains the press release.

Android is based on the Linux Kernel and has some interesting particularities. "Android does not differentiate between the phone's core applications and third-party applications. They can all be built to have equal access to a phone's capabilities providing users with a broad spectrum of applications and services. (...) Android breaks down the barriers to building new and innovative applications. For example, a developer can combine information from the web with data on an individual's mobile phone -- such as the user's contacts, calendar, or geographic location -- to provide a more relevant user experience. With Android, a developer could build an application that enables users to view the location of their friends and be alerted when they are in the vicinity giving them a chance to connect. (...) Android provides access to a wide range of useful libraries and tools that can be used to build rich applications. For example, Android enables developers to obtain the location of the device, and allow devices to communicate with one another enabling rich peer-to-peer social applications."

It seems that Andy Rubin didn't forget the principles used when he built Sidekick: a great platform for developers, always connected to the network and that doesn't cost too much. In less than a week, Google announced two important initiatives that contain the word "open": OpenSocial and now Open Phone Alliance, but Android seems much more open and more meaningful for developers and users.

In a conference call that followed the announcement, Eric Schmidt said that an Android phone "with a real browser, won't need customized programs and websites, so it'll be easy for devs to support the phone by supporting any desktop browser". Apparently, the browser is a very strong point of the phone. By bringing the web closer to mobile phones, Google could become even more important in people's lives of and could increase its reach.

{ Thank you, Chris. }

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