November 7, 2007

Google's Android platform and the Open Handset Alliance: a quick round-up

Carefully orchestrated announcements for broad, sweeping initiatives like the one staged by Google today don't always do a great job of diving straight into the meat and telling it like it is, so we thought we'd boil down the Android and Open Handset Alliance sitch as best we could into a tight, easy to digest series of bullets. If this list is still wider than your attention span, though, just know this: you can pick up your Google-powered phone in the latter half of 2008.

  • At its core, Android forms the basis for Google's operating system and supporting software for phones. In Google's own words, it's a software stack.
  • Two separate but related entities form the basis for today's announcement: the Linux-based Android mobile platform (a result of Google's 2005 acquisition of a start-up of the same name) and the Open Handset Alliance, a 33-strong group of device manufacturers, component manufacturers, software companies, and carriers that have committed to working with Android.
  • There is no cut and dried "Gphone" and Google doesn't intend (or at least it hasn't indicated an intent) to enter the hardware business. Instead, it'll leave that to established players like HTC, LG, and Samsung -- and theoretically, anyone else that wants to have a go at it since the Android platform and its code base is wide open.
  • Unlike the platform itself, there's no guarantee that devices based on the Android platform will be open to third party developers. Google says that'll be left to manufacturers and carriers to be decide, although it doubts they'll choose to lock them down (hmm, has Google ever worked with a carrier before?)

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