After months of speculation, Google's mobile phone plans have just been officially announced: under the guise of the "Open Handset Alliance," Google will be partnering with 34 industry heavies from around the world (including Samsung, Motorola, T-Mobile, HTC, Intel, NVIDIA, Japan's NTT DoCoMo, and China Mobile among others) to create an open-source, developer-friendly software platform (akin to Windows Mobile or Palm OS) called Android. Google hopes the new platform's open-source foundation, granting all alliance members full (and free) access to the source code and the ability to
customize it, will revolutionize the closed, carrier-controlled approach common in the U.S. that often leads to frustrating feature-crippling.
It's an interesting albeit predictable move for Google, mirroring the development of the company's search technology. On today's conference call announcing Android, Google founder Sergey Brin likened it to the open-source projects that he and co-founder Larry Page used as the foundation for their innovative search algorithm, noting that today's mobile phones are often equally if not more powerful than the computers they used to build Google just ten years ago.
The first Android-equipped phones are expected to roll out in the second half of 2008. On the PPX front, Google neither confirmed or denied plans of for long-rumored Google-branded "G-Phone" hardware, stating that if it were to be developed, Android would be the platform. GPHON is currently tumbling, but reports are still circulating of a true Google Phone developed in-house by the big G.
And for a look at the competition Android will face, take a look at today's Fall Cellphone Preview. —John Mahoney