FT : Google On The Go

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Google unveiled its long-awaited cell phone strategy yesterday as it sought to transplant the model that shook up the internet to the mobile sector.  The plan, to be known as “Android”, involves an international alliance of more than 30 handset makers and communications companies and could prove a disruptive force to the economics of the mobile industry in the long-term, according to analysts.  Google’s success in drawing a wide group of mobile industry players to its technology marks a sharp contrast with Microsoft, which has tried for years to win support for a mobile version of its Windows operating system.  That effort was resisted for years by many in the mobile industry, who saw it as an attempt by Microsoft to bring the economics of the PC business to the mobile, a move that might undermine the profits of hardware makers and operators and favour the software company.  While there had been widespread reports that Google would announce alliances to create its own handsets – potentially even carrying the Google brand – it instead laid out a strategy that will give it a background role.  “Today’s announcement is more ambitious than any single ‘Google Phone’ that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks,” said Eric Schmidt, Google chief executive.  The first handsets to take advantage of the new technology should go on sale in the second half of next year, Google said.

The software is designed to make it easier for developers to create mobile applications that run on many different handsets.  At the moment, mobile technology is fragmented, relying on several different operating systems and development environments.  That has reduced the potential market for developers creating games, entertainment or other services for one handset.  Android comprises a complete “stack” of software for mobile phones, including an operating system, middleware, interface and applications.  Issued under an open source licence, it will be made available free of charge to other companies to build their own handsets and applications.  Google also announced a new Open Handset Alliance of mobile and technology companies to further the adoption of the new software.  Its 34 members include handset makers Motorola and Samsung and mobile operators NTT DoCoMo and T-Mobile.  The broad support for Google shows that mobile companies are less worried about its long-term plans than they are about Microsoft’s or Nokia’s, which makes the rival Symbian operating system, said John Jackson, an analyst at Yankee Group.  “Google is not out to eat their lunch,” he said.  “It doesn’t have a mobile software agenda or a hardware agenda.”  Google and several of its partners said that the aim was to create an “open” technology that would encourage greater innovation around mobile handsets.  However, the move represented a delicate balance, as Google tried to shake up the existing structure of the industry while persuading mobile companies that its approach would not disrupt their businesses…..

Reference : http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0e9c2da4-8bbf-11dc-af4d-
0000779fd2ac.html

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