Monday, November 5, 2007

I think Google's Mobile Phone Platform Android will be great

So the Google Phone is out and the first reactions are not too good. At least at GigaOM there is more criticism than kudos. Nobody wants to hype the new product, nearly everyone is nagging. Since Google's shares are worth more than 700 dollars it's not cool anymore to be a Google fanboy.

I got an invitation to the same press call like Om, but unfortunately it started when my workday ended. May other journalist cover the story. Also it seems that the press call was not very much of a pleasure. "They completely dodged my question about how does it reconcile with other mobile linux efforts which are backed by none other than partners like Motorola", writes Om Malik.

Personally I like very much what he tells about Android, Google's new mobile phone plattform:
What is Android? A fully integrated mobile “software stack” that consists of an operating system, middleware, user-friendly interface and applications. It 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. Next week, the Alliance will release an early access software development kit to provide developers with the tools necessary to create innovative and compelling applications for the platform.
Does anybody know if this has something to do with OpenMOKO, the other open Linux cell phone platform? Maybe Android is just the same?

How open is Android compared to OpenMOKO?

The latter let's you manipulate everything to the very core of the mobile phone functions. Yet now there are thousands of great free Linux programs running on the OpenMOKO devices. I would love to see this kind of openness backed by heavy weights like Google and the other mentioned companies.

I hope that Android is as open as the Open Handset Alliance's website says:
Android was built from the ground-up to enable developers to create compelling mobile applications that take full advantage of all a handset has to offer. It is built to be truly open. For example, an application could call upon any of the phone's core functionality such as making calls, sending text messages, or using the camera, allowing developers to create richer and more cohesive experiences for users. Android is built on the open Linux Kernel. Furthermore, it utilizes a custom virtual machine that has been designed to optimize memory and hardware resources in a mobile environment. Android will be open source; it can be liberally extended to incorporate new cutting edge technologies as they emerge. The platform will continue to evolve as the developer community works together to build innovative mobile applications.

All applications are created equal

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. With devices built on the Android Platform, users will be able to fully tailor the phone to their interests. They can swap out the phone's homescreen, the style of the dialer, or any of the applications. They can even instruct their phones to use their favorite photo viewing application to handle the viewing of all photos.
I think GigaOM's reader rohit understands it right:
i think this is a much bigger potential play at replacing the whole mobile phone software stack and aimed at making it truly an information appliance. think of it as an IP-services led “phone” design, not a telco-call based device.
It's a Linux for phones! You can do everything with it, if it's really open. I already wonder how it cooperates with Google's Ubiquisys femtocells. It annoys very much that my cell phone is not as open and flexible as my PC. Give me a command line to my cell phone and I will be happy!

Or, as commentator David Jacobs puts it:
Being an open system, hackers will have a field day with this and it could get some serious traction among the geek community who are so frustrated with the iPhone limitations.
Here you can get more quotes from Android's developers:

"Even A teenager in the basement and a senior designer in a big company - they have the same chance", says the film. That would be great because I don’t want just a Google Phone. I want many different of them for different purposes. That’s why I think the OS approach is great. The iPhone just isn’t enough anymore. It’s so 2007.

I got the offer to do interviews to John Wang, Chief Marketing Officer of Google's hardware producer HTC, and Florian Seiche, Vice President Europe of HTC, tomorrow. Let's see if that will answer my open questions.

1 comment:

  1. i have been a believer for some time that the real revolutionary mobile computer/phone convergence will come in the form of pocket sized computers gaining access to the cell phone networks and not phone gaining computer functionality. this is mostly to do with the politics of how services are sold and a theory that the telcos will not give up there pricing models. however the telcos may offer data only flat rate sims that could enable these hypothetical devices.

    while now we see applications for phones; the real revolutionary change will be VOIP on a non phone. the resulting device will be the same. the way the service is sold will be completly different.

    i hope that a platform as flexible as that described powers these devices. also i would like to see gtalk(jabber/XMPP) built into the core of the operating system.


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