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Old 11-05-2007, 02:54 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Google announces Android open mobile phone platform

Google and the Open Handset Alliance have shaken up the mobile phone industry today with the announcement of the Android mobile phone platform.

It clarifies previous rumors of a possible Google phone - there will not be a Google phone. It will be a platform, which may impact the mobile computing world much more significantly than any one line of phones would have. And in the fallout of the announcement, one expects that an open platform backed by Google and such heavyweights would seem to spell trouble for Palm, Access, WindRiver who are all working on competing Linux based phone platforms.

Computerworld reports that "Android is 'the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices.' The internet search firm worked with T-Mobile, High Tech Computer Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Motorola Corp. to develop Android through the Open Handset Alliance (OHA).

'By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers,' the statement adds."

PC World says, "As previously reported by IDG News Service, the open-source platform will have a complete set of components, including an operating system, middleware stack, customizable user interface and applications." An early version of the SDK will be released next week for developers.

The first phones based on Android will probably not appear until at least second half of 2008. I don't have the inside scoop on expected capabilities, but expect it to be highly web-focused, and to have a lot of impressive web compatibility right off the bat. The growing set of Google online applications is not likely to be ignored.

Apple, of course, is not among the consortium members, and the iPhone is not likely to adopt the Android platform.

From PC World.
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Old 11-05-2007, 02:57 PM   #2
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i like it when the big guys fight. er, i mean "compete"...

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Old 11-05-2007, 03:00 PM   #3
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What I don't like is the reliance on "web based" programs. Having had the choice between the online widgets for the iPhone and natively installed ones, I can tell you that there is a huge difference and the natively installed ones are so much better so hopefully the majority of the programs won't rely on web access.
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Old 11-05-2007, 03:08 PM   #4
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Good point about the concerns about web applications, and their "feel". They can also be very limited when not connected.

However, I believe that Google already has technology to bridge the gap between the connected and unconnected times, and that it has been available to developers for some time now. If the phone platform takes advantage of that capability (which it surely will even if not at rollout), it means the user gets the best of both worlds... like a native app when not connected, but web connectivity when available. Either way, it has the potential to feel more like a native app than a web-based app.

Maybe someone else can fill us in more on where this stands and whether it's part of the Android mobile platform.
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Old 11-05-2007, 03:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
but expect it to be highly web-focused


I hope that not everything needs this web access because "data services" including "Web Access" cost an arm, 2 legs, your first born, and a 2nd morgage per month here in Canada.

Anyone in Canada that can affort high data/web access on a phone is a lot richer than me!

Does not sound like an improvement to me. Go Palm Go.
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Old 11-05-2007, 03:46 PM   #6
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alexander said:
> it means the user gets the best of both worlds...
> like a native app when not connected,
> but web connectivity when available.

well, in an ideal world, you'd get the best of both worlds.
but in the real world, you often get the _worst_ of both...

it's that old saw about how,
theoretically, there's no difference
between theory and reality,
but in reality, there is...

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Old 11-05-2007, 05:54 PM   #7
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Well, it'll be interesting to see if they can get an open-source OS and web-based apps to work, especially given U.S. carriers' penchants to lock-down systems and refuse access to some apps (especially Verizon). They may manage to revolutionalize the market, but it'll probably be a slow process at best.
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Old 11-06-2007, 11:02 AM   #8
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Don't you think some of the problem in the slow adoption of an open source software apps for phones is that Verizon and others' business model is built, in part, on getting people to pay $$ for apps. I remember that in order to have web access with Verizon on your phone, you had to pay for the web application. Then you have to pay for access to certain sites. You have to pay for ringtones, wallpapers, etc.

The free customization of a phone eats away at large profits. (I.e., the profit margin on a ringtone has to be very high).
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Old 11-06-2007, 01:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by da_jane View Post
Don't you think some of the problem in the slow adoption of an open source software apps for phones is that Verizon and others' business model is built, in part, on getting people to pay $$ for apps. I remember that in order to have web access with Verizon on your phone, you had to pay for the web application. Then you have to pay for access to certain sites. You have to pay for ringtones, wallpapers, etc.

The free customization of a phone eats away at large profits. (I.e., the profit margin on a ringtone has to be very high).
Exactly why I expect adoption to be slow, depending on which carriers accept the device, and which ones (like Verizon) decide it is counter-productive to their profit margin, and deny it.

Of course, as Google is talking about web-based apps, Verizon can still charge you a premium price for web access on their network, and make their money that way...
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Old 11-06-2007, 05:48 PM   #10
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I think the profit margin for data plans is over 90%. Companies may be willing to use a free OS that offers customization to their users, but requires a data plan. It probably will be a slow process as a default, but maybe they will offer it as a download/upgrade with the purchase of the required data plan. Probably depends on how much they can brand their installs and control their self-marketing additions.
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Old 11-06-2007, 06:30 PM   #11
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So I work for a company which codes a white label mobile email Solution (down with BlackBerry) An whilst the company is still officially poking around with the SDK. I personally think this could be the next Nokia symbian level o/s. Note though that just because Google want it open doesnt mean by the time we get devices, the hardware companies won't have locked them down.

I've a £5 bet with a college Android is still a big thing this time next year. "Google first flop" he said. I think not..

Bigger than the iPhone me thinks.

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Old 11-06-2007, 06:46 PM   #12
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Old 11-08-2007, 07:08 AM   #13
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Android SDK Questions

There is very little information yet for mobile developer about the Android SDK . I see 3 possible options:

Option 1) it comes with a native open source JVM. This is the Blackberry approach and the best scenario. It will enable running existing J2ME applications (thousands exist today) and Google will provide more powerfull APIs for their integrationg with their application suite, like GMail, Google Maps and YouTube. GPS APIs would be great too. They will also provide a custom Java based UI toolkit to make applications consistent with the phone UI. IDEs will be Netbeans and Eclipse. The low level access to the underlying Linux OS would be hidden from the developer.

Option 2) The JVM is not part of Android, but available as a addon. This is Palm approach (IBM provides the JVM for Treos). In this case, Esmertec will likely provide a non open source JVM to run J2ME apps to each phone vendor. This is OK but not very good, as the JVM may or may not be present and they will be no integration with existing app or UI toolkit. Developer will have to code all apps running on Android with C or C++ APIs using Eclipse. the SDK will be very similar to the now defund Palm Foleo or the Nokia Linux Maemo platform.

Option 3) No JVM, but a powerfull mobile Web Browser ala Safari, based on the Safari WebKit, which is open source, to runn local mobile AJAX apps written in Javascript and DHTML. Google would provide in the browser custom APIs as Javascript libraries to integrate with the platform and custon Javacript UI compomenents. This will be similar to the current iPhone development and also like the Google widget developement. This is ambitious and risky and will not work for mutimedia or game apps. This is not GREAT, but this is OK, specially if they can integrate some version of Google Gears, enabling mobile AJAX apps to run offline.
OR ... all 3 options ? Anyway we will know in 1 week time.

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Old 11-08-2007, 10:42 AM   #14
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I say call me back when it's shipping, and we'll see how much of a juggernaut it is then.

As for Palm and Access, Access should be shipping product Real Soon Now, and Palm is probably only a year out. They should both beat Google to market, and if they don't, they deserve to lose.

It's not that I'm down on Google, it's just that this is still so much vaporware. And I've heard way too many "amazing Linux platform coming soon" stories to get my hopes up prematurely.
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Old 11-08-2007, 12:30 PM   #15
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ACCESS has just said recently that we will see ACCESS based phones outside the US first. Especially if it is a non-Asian rollout (aren't they based in Japan or China?), it means to me they are having trouble getting any phone makers in the US to use the OS.

I think I saw that at Ed Hardy's article at Brighthand, but not sure.

Anyway, I fear that ACCESS could turn out to be similar to Cobalt in terms of getting it on phones.... no phones sold.

Btw, I have some shiny ads about a Cobalt phone that was apparently just about ready to ship before Cobalt died, again in Asia I think. I'll have to scan them and share it here when I get a chance for nostalgic purposes.
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