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Google Mobile OS - Open Handset Alliance

Google, Phone, OS



5:18 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

[news.bbc.co.uk ]

Google has unveiled software it hopes will power a variety of future mobile phones and boost the web on the move.


[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 5:24 pm (utc) on Nov. 5, 2007]
[edit reason] added link [/edit]


5:24 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Popcorn - peanuts...

This is going to be fun to watch - simply for the sport. This is Googles first direct shot at the heart of Microsoft (an operating system).


6:10 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Verizon and AT&T visibly absent. Sprint so-so. Guess their hope is for ROW (rest of world). Cingular? Cingular? Wow, Google, that's sad...

Says something about branding, I think. Perhaps Google didn't have the strong brand they thought they had. Apple was at least able to crack the AT&T castle walls.

I don't see a consumer outcry to let Google in, at least in the U.S. Nobody's "gotta have" a Google phone the way the had to have the iPhone.

Do they know the benefits? What are they? (I'm speaking as Joe Consumer - *I* know the benefits, but does Joe Consumer?) I don't see any consumer demand for this for a couple of years - and then, it will be for any of several competing open platforms - not specifically for Google's.

I don't think it's even a swipe at Microsoft. This is aimed, I think, at the vast middle market for high-end cell phones - NOT "PDA phones". Of course, the lines will blur, and carriers will probably lose the ability to sell PDA phones at premium prices with premium plans at some point. In any case, Microsoft hasn't expressed much interest in that middle market, and that's where this seems aimed.


6:29 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I agree with jtara. Everyone is getting waaaaay ahead of the consumer on this.

I"ll go even further. Why would V and ATT play along? If they can come up with a cool app, then you have to buy it from them.

It's not like people don't want a cellphone.

Still, I share G's frustration with the industry. Some kind of standards are needed.


7:11 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

> Verizon and AT&T visibly absent

Niether one is an issue. Verizon has closed/locked handsets and would not join something like this until forced to do so.

AT&T's are *not* locked and thus - no problemo with alternate manufacturer phones.


Here is the important part:

HTC Corporation, LG Electronics, Inc., Motorola, Inc., Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm Inc., Texas Instruments Incorporated

Those companies are enough to flood the market with chips and handsets running on the open platform. Verizon will open - because they will be forced to open.

> I don't think it's even a swipe at Microsoft.

Microsoft is making big $$$ off smart phones and pda based phones right now. Big - big bucks and if not challenged - they stand to dominate the entire sector for the next decade.

> I don't see a consumer outcry to let Google in,

It's not about Google - it is about the phones that will run Android.

I just switched mobile phone networks for the first time in 7 years. Why? They didn't have the phone I wanted on the "other" network. That was true for millions of iPhone owners, as well as PDA owners. Sorry verizon - it aint about the network no more.


7:34 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

AT&T's are *not* locked and thus - no problemo with alternate manufacturer phones

Big problemo: no subsidies for alternate manufacturer phones. The American public expects the subsidies. A very, very tiny fraction are willing to pay a high unsubsidized price to own some specific prized phone.

Maybe there's something magical about this that will bring the unsubsidized priced to the $200 price point they are aiming at.

Sorry verizon - it aint about the network no more.

What did you say? Hello? Hello?

Verizon will open - because they will be forced to open.

Something seems suspiciously absent as I read over the press releases and FAQ. What guarantees that this "open platform" remains open for end users? Are there licensing restrictions that insure that?


9:05 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

There's no question this will be interesting to watch. I'm very frustrated with the state of wireless phone companies in the US now but I'd rather someone besides Google was leading the charge on this.


9:12 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sorry verizon - it aint about the network no more.

Yep... I bailed for my iPhone after 8.5 years with them.


9:37 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

From the Open Handset Alliance FAQ:

Together we have developed Android, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform.

What's OpenMoko? Chopped liver?

I guess they are somehow arguing that OpenMoko isn't "complete"?

From the Open Handset Alliance Overview:

We are committed to commercially deploy handsets and services using the Android Platform in the second half of 2008.

That's perhaps a year from now. A lot can happen in a year.

Instead of the gPhone we were expecting, all we get is some spreading of FUD.

Don't get me wrong - I think this is a good thing. There is a move toward more openness, and I think there will be several competing, open platforms. For the industry to settle on one platform rather defeats the whole idea of openness, don't you think?

Notice that I said "more openness". Why did I qualify it? Well, the "open" handset alliance qualifies it themselves:

Each member of the Open Handset Alliance is strongly committed to greater openness in the mobile ecosystem.

Not "openness". Just "greater" openness.

From the FAQ:

mobile operators will have complete flexibility to customize and differentiate their product lines.

So, would that include complete flexibility to lock it down?

Edit: Google apparently has commented on this. From

Does "open" mean "unlocked"?

Google acknowledged that the structure of Android would enable providers to create a locked-down phone, but said that was unlikely to happen.

"It's both possible and highly unlikely because the more constraints the manufacturers put on the platform" the less beneficial it is, Google's Schmidt said. "While a license would allow that kind of behavior … it's unlikely you'll see [a locked down] scenario."

HTC's McKinsey agreed. "Yes, technically that's possible but we in the alliance don't see that happening or coming to fruition that way," he said. "We envision the end user to be able to do more from a customization aspect on this device than they have in the past."

Ah. They will be able to do more. Well, they "envision" that users will be able to do "more". Yea, that's open.

On November 12th, an early look at the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) will be made available to developers via our website.

But when will developers (who aren't part of the alliance) be able to actually start developing? When will they get more than an "early look".

So, what does it take to be an insider? That's unclear:

Who can join the Open Handset Alliance?

The Open Handset Alliance brings together companies in the mobile ecosystem that each contribute to the effort in various ways. We welcome companies willing to make serious and ongoing contributions to openness in the mobile world.

Who decides whether a company's efforts are "serious and ongoing"?

I think maybe they should have called it the "Opener Handset Alliance". OK, excuse my English. "More Open Software Alliance". Naw, neither one rolls off the tongue quite as well.

What *does* Google get out of this? Good karma? Something more? More access to handsets than they have now, once platforms are open?

There seems to be something missing here. Was there a gPhone initiative which got deep-sixed, and this is what is left? Or is another shoe yet to drop?


10:42 pm on Nov 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Or is another shoe yet to drop?

I think - when we see what they have in store in terms of mobile applications - we'll get it. Just look at the companies they have been buying...

As a UK mobile user, this move doesn't surprise me at all... People here aren't so carrier-loyal at all, and wouldn't hesitate to change for a better deal. Brand loyalty is much stronger - people buy Nokias because, they say 'I know how it works'. Sounds like functionality loyalty to me - a much easier nut to crack (word of mouth).

In general in the UK a phone contract is up after a year or 18 months and all carriers provide a service to switch to them and keep your number. It's so easy.

If Android provides a great OS that is easy to use and has loads of good functionality/applications AND hardware providers put it on desirable models then people will buy it for sure. HTC already have a pretty good touch screen phone that with a good OS could be a winner.

I've had a couple of MS smartphones and they leave so much to be desired and I don't fancy an iPhone at all for lots of reasons.

Actually this move is a no-brainer for Google. What's the competition for a mobile OS? Symbian (no branding, bad internet connectivity)? Windows Mobile (horrible usability and stability)? iPhone (you'll use your phone how we want you to use it)?


1:04 am on Nov 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Internestingly, Verizon, like almost every other major cell phone service, offers a "Verizon" branded PDA Phone manufactured by HTC (which is part of the open alliance).


1:31 am on Nov 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jtara is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

There's likely to be some confusion regarding the name "Open Handset Alliance". It seems confusingly similar to the "Open Mobile Alliance", which is responsible for the WAP standard, among others.

FWIW, I worked in the same building, on the same floor as the OMA's headquarters earlier this year. Had to walk past on my way to the restroom. Never did see a single soul walk through their locked door. Strange. Guess they are "virtual". I suppose if OHA accomplishes something significant, there will be no confusion. :)


3:20 am on Nov 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

First, who in their right mind would commit to major development of hardware dependent software based on a SDK which has not been even released yet, and for which said hardware will not exist for a minimum of six months?

Someone else could trash six or more months of work just because the specs don't match the hardware.

players can add proprietary functionality to their products based on Android without needing to contribute anything back to the platform.

So far, so good. This is perfectly consistent with Googles past treatment of open source.

1.2 Your use of products, software, services and websites in connection with the Open Handset Alliance website (referred to collectively as the "Services" in this document) is subject to the terms of a legal agreement between you and Google. "Google" means Google Inc., a Delaware corporation with principal place of business at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, United States. This document explains how the agreement is made up, and sets out some of the terms of that agreement.

It seems some equals are more equal than others.

4.2 Google is constantly innovating in order to provide the best possible experience for its users. You acknowledge and agree that the form and nature of the Services that Google provides may change from time to time without prior notice to you.

4.3 As part of this continuing innovation, you acknowledge and agree that Google may stop (permanently or temporarily) providing the Services (or any features within the Services) to you or to users
generally at Google's sole discretion,

without prior notice to you. You may stop using the Services at any time. You do not need to specifically inform Google when you stop using the Services.

4.4 You acknowledge and agree that if Google disables access to your account, you may be prevented from accessing the Services, your account details or any files or other content that is contained in your account.

4.5 You acknowledge and agree that while Google may not currently have set a fixed upper limit on the number of transmissions you may send or receive through the Services or on the amount of storage space used for the provision of any Service, such fixed upper limits may be set by Google at any time, at Google's sole discretion.

Truly confidence inspiring. A model for trusting collaboration by all parties.</sarcasm>

Finally, the most important question.

Can they knock out Blackberry domination?

Do you think RIM is going to even consider switching?


1:06 pm on Nov 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

People forget what a staggering amount of data that google has, and how little is available to mobile devices.

eg. If you are at home its easy to plan a route using google maps, but once you leave its virtually impossible. Once the internet and these apps are available on mobile phones - I think a lot of people will ditch computers and just use the web.

I hope that there is some cooperation between OpenMoko and this. OpenMoko *is* a long way from complete, especially in the userspace apps. The Green Phone extends upon the OpenMoko base so its possible that this will too. Hopefully they will at least stick with bitbake to try to keep all these different build environments easier to work together.

OpenMoko has a major problem making all of their source totally open because of US laws on weapons (the GPS module). Maybe Google has spoken to the lawyers about this, or maybe this part will be a binary blob. Only time will tell, but adding location capability to mobile phones will be big (even with the privacy implications). If you are worried about being tracked then you should not carry a phone because they already track your movement.


5:37 pm on Nov 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Let's be honest - it will be very difficult for Google to enter the mobile market.

In the past, carriers have charged Google an arm and a leg to get into the phones services folder. The carriers KNOW that Google will try to capture consumers with the Google brand. And that they may lose this fight unless they tighten their grip on the market and charge Google a premium fee (yes, some carriers in Europe are said to have admitted Google services into their networks for an undisclosed amount).

Google knows that this strategy (i.e. paying carriers to get in) won't work.

So, in their unbelievable arrogance, they declare war on mobile operators by reducing them to "bitpipes", exchangable faceless wireless ISPs without own brand or services. Now, go ask any mobile network operator how they feel about this. And where they see Google. What makes matters worse is that Google does not want to share revenues with the operators, at least not in a way that makes business sense for the operators.

Now, that's the real reason why Google wants an "open handset". It's not targeted at MSFT. It's targeted at the carriers who unfortunately "own" the customer.

So Google need to bypass them. They think that the only way to do this is to get consumers out of the "walled gardens" provided as part of the subsidized mobile phones.

But this will not work - network operators will keep on having a tight grip on the market:

1) Mobile operators provide the phone subsidy. Who goes out to buy an OHA equipped "open" mobile when there is NO SUBSIDY? Would any consumer pay 250 bucks for an OHA phone with a few nice Google apps on it? When they can get the same phone for $1 without the Google stuff? Erm, yes. Noone will buy such a phone. Now, Google -despite all their money- will probably not do a handset subsidy; it's not their core business, and it is quite expensive, too. How many ads need to be clicked in order to recover a $250 subsidy? Many. The handset manufacturers won't do a handset subsidy. They want to sell a device. So why would consumers line up to buy an expensive phone then?

2) Operators have their QA departments and very very tight rules on which phones are allowed to use their networks. Thus you can pretty much forget about a really "open handset" that is as open as, say, Linux. Perhaps an OHA phone may allow you to change parts of the O/S, but certainly not it's core components. Just forget about that. Will not happen. -- And still this is a very powerful instrument. Carriers may just shut down any connections from phones that are not approved by them. Now, would you buy a phone that does not work in your network? No, I won't do either.

In short - this will be very very difficult to bring to life.


6:09 pm on Nov 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I see it more like the $200 gPC - lots of people are fed up buying an expensive phone/computer; they are not subsidized, you are buying it with your contract, loaded with stuff they do not need - buy a basic cheap phone from WalMart!

A basic new phone can be had for under $50 and if I can put my own software on it - I am sold!


7:55 pm on Nov 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

> it will be very difficult for Google to enter the mobile market.

Unlocked phones running on 3g/GSM anywhere in the world is the future of phone networks and devices. People are starting to buy a phone - not a network. The iPhone has awakened the world to the realities of a quality device and a new phone experience.

> bitpipes

That is all they are now. The iPhone has proven that. The old school locked phone carriers can only last so long in this environment. 3g/gsm or die.

>It's not targeted at MSFT

Not primarily no - it's about advertising on the phone. However, it is a major swing in microsofts direction and they will have to respond.

> provided as part of the subsidized mobile phones.

The subsidies are not what they used to be. I can buy the phone I own cheaper in Hong Kong right now and ship it here, than I paid through at&t for it.

>1) Mobile operators provide the phone subsidy.

And as phone become network independent, that subsidy is shrinking rapidly - almost by the minute.

> Would any consumer pay 250 bucks for an OHA
> phone with a few nice Google apps on it?

A friend just paid $399 for a pda phone that he could have gotten from south east asia for about the same price. And, he had to reup for 2 years to boot.

By the time all these manufactures get to creating phones with a common OS, they will have them down to cheaper than the locked in versions on the networks.

The manufactures are dying to unlock their phones and sell them to an open public. You want to talk subsidy - the hand set manufactures are drooling at the possibility of an open market.

I can sell 10million phones to verizon customers, or I can go open market and compete myself in a market of 1 billion customers. Gosh, which ones are the hand set manufactures going to pick?

> tight rules on which phones are allowed to use their networks.

The good majors (AT&T, Tmobile, sprint...etc) will let you bring in unlocked phones - no problemo. And even the phones that they sell, you can call and get them unlocked easily to use anywhere. Europeans come over with their handsets to our networks all the time.

Clearly, mobile networks are going the way of land lines and an open network. The Google push can only help that trend.

50 years from now, we will


3:21 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Imho the mobile industry is at a very early stage. Hardware sells, atm. But just as it happened with the PC's and the advent of Microsoft, software eventually came to the foreground, became more relevant and hardware was pushed to having just a background role. Android hopes to do the same for mobile handsets.

For those disappointed and not getting a cool snazzy gPhone; I don't think Google is in any way interested at entering the hardware market. They're smarter than that. Because you know, eventually Apple's "innovation" will stop and there will be a Chinese and Vietnamese iPhone - cheaper and it will sell more.

- Sri


10:20 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is the official beginning of Next Big Thing. Google was wise enough to know it had to be open, yet they're going to make even more money with the advertising. It's not about phones it's about mobile information and social networking. It might be on a gPhone, an iPhone, an xPhone or some $139.99 generic Wal-Mart device. Phone service optional.

Once they iron out the privacy and security concerns (ok, privacy will be a problem) in a secure open ID standard (think your amazon 'profile' on steroids) I predict they will integrate millions of MySpace accounts into the new network to encourage adoption.

I further predict that in 10 years, "web browsing" as we know it will be a relic of the past. Those sites that survive this evolution will do so only because they integrate with some of the new standards, and because they offer pay services or content that can not be had otherwise. In other words, sell your social networking and forums sites now! ;)


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