Print 42 comment(s) - last by BAFrayd.. on Nov 8 at 10:40 PM

Google has just announced its much anticipated mobile phone OS named Android and its Open Handset Alliance. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.

Google rocked the mobile phone industry just hours ago when it announced the true face of its mobile phone efforts.  The operating system, named Android has been kept under tight wraps by Google, but DailyTech caught wind of it weeks ago.

Android OS, available in the second half of 2008, aims to provide a operating system, user interface and a broad array of mobile applications.  The OS is expected to directly compete with the market leading Symbian OS and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Mobile "Photon", scheduled for release in 2008.

Software Development Kits for Android will be available in within days -- on November 12.  Early support for third parties is very refreshing, in contrast to smartphone rival Apple Inc. whose mobile version of OS X denies third parties support until February 2008, due to "security reasons."

The Google Software Development Kit (SDK) promises to provide third party applications with robust tools and equal access to all the same capabilities that Google's first party applications enjoy.  Programmers can add capabilities based on the users contacts, calendar, or geographic location. 

Mashups, according to Google, are a must.

The OS also has some powerful industry support.  Thirty-four companies have formed the "Open Handset Alliance," which worked with Google to develop the OS and will continue to aid it is growth and release.  The alliance, of which Google is the founding member, features such communication giants as T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm and Motorola.

American carriers can look forward to Android accelerating development of new mobile services and also aiding hardware development by adding a foundation for wireless communication.

"Google has been an established partner for T-Mobile’s groundbreaking approach to bring the mobile open Internet to the mass market. We see the Android platform as an exciting opportunity to launch robust wireless Internet and Web 2.0 services for T-Mobile customers in the US and Europe in 2008," said René Obermann, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile.

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt also raved about the move, saying, "Today's announcement is more ambitious than any single 'Google Phone' that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks. Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models."

While Schmidt attempts to downplay the significance of a Google Phone, the fact that the company anticipated forking over $4.6 billion for the 700 MHz wireless spectrum already confirms some kind of device is in the works.

Google Maps and GMail are currently available on many phones, and will be among the Google first party applications provided by Google.

The news follows a flurry of recent activity from Google.  Recently Google's wildly popular free email service, achieved premier status by implementing IMAP support, and Google also recently announced that it will soon be rolling out second iteration of GMail, dubbed "GMail 2.0".

As Google launches its OS into the mobile phone market, many may speculate how long it will be before the media giant decides to go for the jugular and take on Microsoft's Windows OS in the personal computer OS market.  After all Google has everything else -- news, a trans-Pacific digital lines project, a $30 million dollar moon project, videos, and a partnership with -- so why not a desktop OS?

A mobile phone OS seems to indicate Google phones are all but confirmed at this point.  However instead of a monolithic approach as with the Apple iPhone, impending Google ubiquity will likely come, at least at first, via third-party support.

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Sweet !! :)
By euclidean on 11/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: Sweet !! :)
By retrospooty on 11/5/2007 1:22:36 PM , Rating: 4
Thats not really a question is it? No way in hell will you be able to upgrade. You cant even upgrade from one Palm OS device to another, what makes you think Palm, or more importantly, your carrier would make an upgrade available?

RE: Sweet !! :)
By ImmortalZ on 11/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: Sweet !! :)
By retrospooty on 11/5/2007 2:07:43 PM , Rating: 3
Can, yes. Will , no.

There will be no upgrading of old Treo's (or old Win Mobile devices for that matter) to the new competing OS. If you seriously think that will happen you know zero about the smartphone industry. Carriers control it all, not the phone makers, and they are not interested in updating older devices, none of them are.

RE: Sweet !! :)
By ImmortalZ on 11/5/2007 2:37:36 PM , Rating: 1
And who says carriers need to do it?

Check out projects like OpenEZX or OpenMoko. The only thing carriers do is have some customized skins + the GPRS/UMTS settings built into the phone with a simlock. Simlocks are easily removed. GPRS settings can be added back - it's not black magic.

If it's an open OS and the target device has enough users, people will find ways around whatever hurdles placed in their way. Hell, almost every good Motorola phone has a community around it - locked features are brought back in, carrier placed restrictions are removed - you name it, they'll be hacking it. HowardForums is an eye opening place.

RE: Sweet !! :)
By retrospooty on 11/5/2007 2:45:58 PM , Rating: 4
You do know that there is more to a smartphone than an arm processor right? They are all highly specific designs, not like windows, where you can just load a new OS because the hardware is standardized. You have to deal with the entire ROM, flash memory, radio, radio firmware, and many other aspects, each tiny little piece is custom.

It wont happen. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it just wont. Not on any older device, even an unlocked one. I do realize it is possible to do, of course it is, but the amount of labor and engineering it takes to do a complete ROM/OS for a smartphone (any smartphone) is not just a little too much for this type of undertaking, its WAY too much (think 100x as much as you think it is). The only way any team/company would elect to do it is of the money is there to fund it, and it wont even be on any previously released phone.

RE: Sweet !! :)
By stonemetal on 11/6/2007 9:20:16 AM , Rating: 1
What you don't realize is that it has already been done for a large number of phones. I once worked with a guy that had a hacked razor. While not a "smart" phone it does show that phone hacking is more than possible, it happens. Second to hack a device that already works you don't have to engineer a complete Rom/Os you take one that already works and tweak it to run.

RE: Sweet !! :)
By retrospooty on 11/8/2007 9:42:36 AM , Rating: 2
Taking an existing Palm ROM and hacking it, then reloading it is one thing, loading a whole new OS is totally another thing and wont be done. Not to the point where it works even half assed and is a sellable product.

RE: Sweet !! :)
By BAFrayd on 11/8/2007 10:40:25 PM , Rating: 2
You're right.
I'm sure Google, with all the genius-level folks working there, with billions of dollars for development, are simply too naive to realize it can't be done.
Hurry and call them, because I don't think there aware that you have defined the issue.

RE: Sweet !! :)
By UNCjigga on 11/5/2007 3:20:45 PM , Rating: 3
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought most of those projects are written on top of a phone's existing RTOS (the low-level code embedded on the device.) I imagine that Android might even use a different RTOS if it is truly "open"--that would be the IP Google acquired when they bought Android in 2005. Of course, writing an RTOS from scratch is next to impossible so they could be using Qualcomm REX.

Maybe the GSM world is different, but I know Treos/Moto Qs etc. on CDMA all use Qualcomm chipsets, and those all run some form of REX that Windows Mobile/Palm OS run on top of. If Android uses a different RTOS, it will require all-new devices. You won't be able to port it with just a hacked firmware.

RE: Sweet !! :)
By retrospooty on 11/5/2007 3:29:40 PM , Rating: 2
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought most of those projects are written on top of a phone's existing RTOS (the low-level code embedded on the device.)"

You are right, and there is a huge difference between taking an existing ROM/OS and modifying it and reloading it back to the same phone and making a whole new ROM/OS and loading it on a different phone. It just doesn't work that on smartphones. It micht if there was a standardized platform, but none exist, not even on similar devices from the same company (meaning you cant load a modified Treo 700 ROM to a Treo 650, much less a new OS platform altogether.

RE: Sweet !! :)
By euclidean on 11/5/2007 3:30:02 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not worried about my carrier. I've messed around with my phone a ton, not nearly as much as those who haxed iPhones, but enough that I know the possibilities. I've already switched my 650 from PalmOS to Windows Mobile2k5. It's fun getting to know the workings of your mobile smartphone and it's even more fun putting games and other software on it for free instead of paying $15+ to my carrier to get it. And it wasn't really a question, more a statement that let others think of the possibilities. If I really wanted it though and it wasn't out as an upgrade anywhere (not just the carriers) i'll just have work get me a new one. Easy as pie IMO ;)

RE: Sweet !! :)
By LiquidIce1337 on 11/7/2007 9:30:11 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have a guide or link to somewhere that offers information to convert a Treo 650 to windows mobile? I am very curious!

Details Details...
By jodhas on 11/5/2007 12:59:39 PM , Rating: 2
I keep on hearing that the Google OS is supposed to shape the mobile os industry for years to come. But I don't see any details. Google is doing a really good job of keeping everything under the lid.

I am happy to hear that T-Moble and HTC are lining with Google. This is certainly a good news. I've stayed away from Verizon for the longest time because of their proprietary menu and OS. I hope they ditch their current setup and go with the Google OS. But like I said, I want some details...screenshots... functions.....

RE: Details Details...
By JasonMick on 11/5/2007 1:04:27 PM , Rating: 6
A bit more information: its not in the article, but OS is open source and is using a modified version of the Apache License.

As to screenshots there is a general lack thereof. You can follow the links to watch two Google videos on the OS though.

Google has not released a list of specifications...what exactly it is supporting or offering. This will be coming in following months--I would hope at least.

I agree Google is being very very sneaky about this thing. With its backers though, this should be REAL big.

RE: Details Details...
By helios220 on 11/5/2007 1:42:46 PM , Rating: 2
There are quite a few links in the article, but I'm assuming you mean this one?:

Good suff, but no video of the OS/UI itself unless I missed something scanning through it, which is entirely possible.

RE: Details Details...
By UNCjigga on 11/5/2007 3:00:26 PM , Rating: 3
Real big? This has the potential to be HUGE. I'm very excited about this development. I think at the very least this platform and the iPhone will spur development of Advanced Device platforms. Apple, Microsoft, RIM and Palm should watch this VERY carefully.

Let's face it--in the past few years we haven't seen a lot of innovation in the mobile OS space. Windows Mobile, RIM OS and Palm have focused on push email/messaging integration and media player functionality--the core OS and UI hasn't really changed and the focus has always been enterprise users.

iPhone has helped blur the lines between advanced devices and standard feature phones, and brought a lot of innovation geared to making the device consumer-friendly. But we still haven't seen official 3rd-party app development beyond a few web apps, so beyond a few touchscreen UI tweaks it hasn't been enough to really stir up Microsoft or RIM. Android is different--it has the potential to be more of a direct threat to RIM and Microsoft's business models.

eBay's membership in the Alliance also has groundbreaking implications--if Android itself can support a unified mPayments platform--well that will be a first.

I still think there are a lot of questions to be answered on the mobile operator side. Looking at the Q&A from the conference call, it seems that mobile operators still have the power to control aspects of the platform. This is important to getting their support, though. No operator wants to be reduced to the role of IP backbone while application developers get all the revenue. They need to have a role in deploying premium services and content. I'm not sure how that will all pan out under Android.

RE: Details Details...
By crystal clear on 11/6/2007 12:37:35 AM , Rating: 2
Lets hear from the guys who were there -Details ...details...

Much of today's conference call for press/analysts sounded like vaporspeak to me. Empty promises scripted by marketing teams meant to make us think that something important had been announced, even though nothing really new was spoken of.

When asked what the operating system looked like, Schmidt said it was "awesome." Uh. Thanks. That's very descriptive. Google did say that the base software and SDK will be available next week. Hopefully we'll be able to get some screen shots to see what "awesome" really looks like.

They didn't provide any details such as whether or not there will be a gPhone, whether or not carriers will lock the platform down and make it unavailable for consumer customization, what types of hardware will we see, can it handle touch screen interfaces, and so on.

They did mention one word again and again and again. And that word was consumer. Android will be a platform to help get mobile applications and services onto the handset - services and applications most often used by consumers. Not enterprise types.

.....asked Schmidt how Google came up with the name Android for the platform. He deadpanned: "It seems rather lifeless to me."

RE: Details Details...
By crystal clear on 11/6/2007 1:42:41 AM , Rating: 1
.....asked Schmidt how Google came up with the name Android for the platform. He deadpanned: "It seems rather lifeless to me."

Embarassing !! he is not even aware that the new mobile OS called "Android" is a result of its acquisition of a mobile software company of the same name in 2005

Even more embarassing - He sits on the board of directors of Apple with its iPhone & at the same time works to bring in a competitor for the iPhone & Apple.

Clash of interest-Apple should fire him.

RE: Details Details...
By mlau on 11/5/2007 1:41:02 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised HTC is on board. Although they are one of
the largest PDA-Phone makers they've generally been a
WindowsCE-only shop so far (didn't MS invest in them for showing so much blind faith?).

On the other hand, I'd love to have a TyTN-II with free software; WinCE is pretty much the worst software for a PDA anyway. Google's stuff can only be better since it wasn't
primarily designed by marketing droids.

Good time to buy?
By jodhas on 11/5/2007 1:18:36 PM , Rating: 2
So at $700 a share, is it still a good time to buy their stocks?

RE: Good time to buy?
By KristopherKubicki on 11/5/2007 1:21:02 PM , Rating: 1
You're almost better off getting into a fund that holds Google, as it's extremely cost prohibitive to get into even shares.

RE: Good time to buy?
By zpdixon on 11/5/2007 2:24:46 PM , Rating: 1
Why is it cost-prohibitive to invest into Google shares ? Say you want to invest $1400. Whethere you buy 2 shares at $700 each, or 200 shares at $7 each, it's the same amount of money.

RE: Good time to buy?
By themadmilkman on 11/5/2007 2:30:57 PM , Rating: 2
Good luck trying to buy just 2 shares...

RE: Good time to buy?
By zpdixon on 11/5/2007 3:05:03 PM , Rating: 2
Why is this not possible ?

RE: Good time to buy?
By euclidean on 11/5/2007 3:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
Good luck trying to buy just 2 shares...

I did, @300/share a couple years back. Then I bought 15 more shares a little later @325/ share. It's a nice tiny investment, and even though I have more in other places, google is what started me into investing into stock. <3 Google.

RE: Good time to buy?
By Ringold on 11/5/2007 10:31:57 PM , Rating: 2
If anybody had trouble getting shares at $700.. the price.. wouldn't be $700!

Liquidity. Demand, supply. It's glorious, isn't it? ;)

I don't know if I should add to my position at this point, but I do know that it moving up in a day like today with such vicious trading action makes me confident in holding what I've already got.

Price per share, anyway, is meaningless. P/E, PEG, and so forth, those are the only things that matter.

RE: Good time to buy?
By Terberculosis on 11/6/2007 9:11:12 AM , Rating: 2
Am I the only one who thinks that a 30% + growth in less than 60 days is not really a sustainable increase? especially considering the big announcement they were getting their growth came out yesterday, only to be revealed that the roll out wont be for a year. That price is going to come down some. I wouldn't be falling all over myself to buy right now.

Google Me?
By bldckstark on 11/5/2007 1:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
So what will it mean a year from now when you "google" someone. Are you calling them on the phone or searching their name on the internet? OOOWWWWWW!! My brain hertz!

RE: Google Me?
By Etsp on 11/5/2007 1:45:19 PM , Rating: 3
If all goes according to plan...both at the same time. When you call a person, their name would be googled, and you could look at that information while talking to them (probably best if using bluetooth...)

Motorola may benefit the most
By ninjit on 11/5/2007 2:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
It's interesting that besides HTC, Motorola is the only other actual phone-manufacturer who's part of the alliance right now.

I've used a few Motorola phones in my time, and even though their physical designs can be slick (the whole *RZR line), the software and UI is abysmal.
I can't stand their contact list, and how it takes way to many clicks to get to useful stuff, even with homepage shortcuts.

Because of this I think they may benefit the most from Android. (as opposed to nokia, or sony-erricson)

RE: Motorola may benefit the most
By UNCjigga on 11/5/2007 3:05:23 PM , Rating: 2
I think Samsung's in OHA too, though not sure if that's chipsets, phones, or both. Samsung does make some nifty ARM-based system-on-a-chip designs (iPhone anyone?)

It's a Statement, AND a vehicle
By TimberJon on 11/5/2007 4:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
Google is everywhere, but it always seems that it is behind the curtain. The IT people know that google is awesome, and recommend it to everyone. But the average joe knows about Yahoo, and suckers get stuck with MSN and their services.

Android seems to make the statement that Windows Mobile is not the shiyat. Now even I claim that Windows Mobile blows everything else away. I like it, will like WM6, and cant wait until WM7 is built upon CF 6.0. CF is awesome! but nobody really exploits it to add useful things.. Instead it seems that every full-blown or quasi-programmer takes a good idea and turns it into a working (or half-working) little program for the WM device, just to make some bucks off of it.

When you find a guy in a forum that SAYS he makes programs or has evidence of it.. he wont make you a simple program, and he wont even bother to charge you. So theyre a little buttoned up.

The other reason, which is why I call this new OS a vehicle.. is that it launches Google into the public eye, ear and opinion MUCH MORE than any of their current products do. Maybe 1 out of 5 people I know, know that google has its own free email sector. Another 1 out of 30 know that it has alot to do with advertising and offers a plethora of business-grade services. And on and on...

People dont know how deep Googles fingers run. But they will... The OS will help open eyes and DIRECT people to those other services that Google has available. Which is probably partially what they mean by "still looking at how to unobtrusively add advertising".

With as much attention as this is generating, I hope that tons of third party applications and programs will be written right the first time, and become available to the Andriod OS users free of charge. At least the low-level ones.

By TiberiusKane on 11/5/2007 7:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with Google getting more public awareness and this being a good move, but I'm just adding a bit of a reality-check to your statement about putting Google into the public eye. Yes this does give them more exposure, but "MUCH MORE" than any of their current products? Those people you speak of that don't know about Gmail, they probably won't give two craps about Google's OS in a cell phone (or even what an OS is. and honestly, 1 in 5? They're probably a bit in the dark when it comes to technology). So no, public opinion won't change as much since the people that would be excited about this are the people that already have a good opinion of google. Everything you said about synergizing with Google's other products, I do agree with.

By Ringold on 11/5/2007 10:44:16 PM , Rating: 3
While I think all of this sounds exciting, I hope they don't wade in to the land of the desktop OS.

I'd be worried that between service packs, exploits and trying to live up to the hype all while trying to make a buck in a heavily entrenched market they'd lose their current "coolness", their hipness, their nimble ability to woo the tech-literate public with almost everything they do.

I can't particularly substantiate it, I just feel like it'd be the equivalent of a virtual Vietnam. Let the ARVN (Microsoft), North (Apple) and Charlie (NLF) duke it out and all make themselves look like bungling idiots.

Besides, are the Google boys Jack Welchs? Can they oversee with success a conglomerate tech company that tries to do everything in all markets?

I paraphrase the Oracle of Omaha; Stick to what you know best. Media.

Formed an Alliance
By AlphaVirus on 11/5/2007 3:39:35 PM , Rating: 2
This Alliance sounds like an anti-Apple alliance to me, a direct competitor to the iPhone considering HTC jumped on board when they seemed to be strictly Windows Mobile.

I must admit those are some strong players in the alliance.

By GTaudiophile on 11/5/2007 10:41:42 PM , Rating: 2
It is refreshing to see such an alliance as opposed to Apple/AT&T's monopolistic behavior. And just like Macintosh failed with their amazing OS in 1984, the iPhone will fail due to such close-mindedness. They should have opened up the iPhone to anyone and everyone who wanted one.

By crystal clear on 11/6/2007 2:22:17 AM , Rating: 2
A collection of views on the subject across the web-

Microsoft already has an alliance of its own that includes 48 equipment makers, 160 mobile operators in 55 countries, and thousands of independent software vendors.
Also about 18,000 applications are already built on Windows Mobile, for use in large businesses and by consumers.

why mobile software developers should shift focus from the iPhone, Symbian, mobile Linux, and Microsoft Windows Mobile.

"On the one hand, an open platform such as Android is a good thing, because it will make applications cheap and more available, but it is bad thing because fragmentation is a serious issue with any kind of open platform," said Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "Google has described a scenario that is kind of loosey-goosey, which could mean that different carriers insist on different build-outs of Android. Interoperability will suffer."

For business users, anything developed with Android is "pretty much dead," Dulaney said. "Business users need interoperability, so this is not a business play at all. This is for consumers and won't be something on our recommended list."

Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates LLC, suggested that OHA members will need to focus on making Android applications uniform across their entire base. "How does their strategy work?" Gold asked. "I'm skeptical that they can pull this off."

My opinion-

"It seems rather lifeless to me" .......

you assume a wrong target
By juuvan on 11/6/2007 7:13:35 AM , Rating: 2
If you look at the backers of this OS and check who is the stronges supporter of the Symbian OS, you'll notice that the main target of this iniative is not Microsoft or carriers, but Nokia.

Qualcomm is actively fighting Nokia over 3G IP, Motorola is slipping as a competitor outside US and Nokia just acquired a company holding IP concidering maps and positioning.

One got to love the conspiracy theories...

BTW the SIM-locks doesn't exist in same extent in EU, and there already exists Linux based smartphones and internet tablets, so nothing new here in terms of open software...

Some info was left out...
By shabby on 11/6/2007 7:34:38 PM , Rating: 2
I was reading the paper today, yes a newspaper, they had a small blurb about this.
When you'll be surfing the internet on your google OS you'll be bombarded with ad's from google, they gotta make their money somehow. And i thought they were getting into this because of the goodness of their heart...

By pugster on 11/7/2007 12:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
In Japan, the sales of pc started to decline because consumers can do things without requiring a pc. Microsoft flopped with their windows Mobile and now their Orgami project. They could've easily provided some kind of more modular OS and could've easily earned money thru licensing. Now all the hardware manufacturers, telecom, and software makers are going around google. In 5-10 years or now, people would be able to do most of their things that they needed to do without a PC and microsoft would kick their behind for not getting into this in the first place.

Poor M$......
By mondo1234 on 11/7/2007 5:45:34 PM , Rating: 2
Its having a hard time pleasing the masses anymore

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
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