Holy Schnikey! The Scale of the Open Handset Alliance

Google’s announcement of the Open Handset Alliance made my jaw drop due to the size, scope and scale of this undertaking. Coordinating and orchestrating something of this magnitude is breathtaking and only someone with the market cap and influence of a Google could pull this off.

A new, open source platform was announced: “Androidâ„¢ will deliver a complete set of software for mobile devices: an operating system, middleware and key mobile applications. On November 12, we will release an early look at the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) to allow developers to build rich mobile applications.

Built on the Linux kernel, it is a complete mobile phone software stack. It includes everything a manufacturer or operator needs to build a mobile phone. Android will be made available as open source via the Apache v2 license which means that yes, it isn’t controlled by any single company and all players have to contribute back into the code base. There will be complete documentation and a software developer’s kit available on November 12th.

Here’s the game-changer to this anouncement — besides the obvious shared platform upon which multiple mobile phone providers can build — and why I’m so enthused by this announcement: in the same way that Apple has built the incredible value-added Mac OS X atop BSD unix and the Mach kernel, this provides the mobile telephony marketplace with the same opportunity to innovate atop Android. (From this Wikipedia article: The Apache License is a free software license authored by the Apache Software Foundation (ASF). The Apache License requires preservation of the copyright notice and disclaimer, but it allows use of the source code for the development of both free/open source and proprietary/closed source software.)

Here’s what’s curious to me about today’s announcement:

a) Where is Apple? Google’s CEO, Dr. Eric Schmidt, sits on Apple’s board, they’ve embraced  and it seems to me that Apple will be marching down their own path with the iPhone. Not enough info yet so I’ll have to wait for the SDK to ship and understand more about the core services Android enables.

b) Could this help resurrect Palm, also missing from today’s announcement? Since their next operating system is being built atop of Linux, could this enable Palm to continue their handheld leadership position while leveraging a global community of platform innovators? UPDATE: Engadget contacts Palm and they’re not going to “play” with this new platform.

c) How about Microsoft? Their licensing of Windows Mobile to all handset manufacturer’s has been prolific, but none of them can truly innovative services atop it. That alone will be why we see a slew of handset makers begin to embrace Android.

As the press release stated, there are a few people with handsets and hundreds of millions of them will upgrade to smartphones over time:
With nearly 3 billion users worldwide, the mobile phone has become the most personal and ubiquitous communications device.” I’ll just bet a few of them will be using Google services and search feeding data back in to be harvested as GPS enabled mobile handsets grow and make it easier to target ads to individuals within the context of their location!

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1 Comment

  1. OHAdev on November 7, 2007 at 10:33 am

    http://www.ohadev.org
    Given the recent news of the “g-phone” and the Open Handset Alliance. A new website has been launched to facilitate coordination between developers who intend to use the “Android SDK” from google.

    please visit: http://www.ohadev.org



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