Coalition Announces Open Platform for Mobile Devices

The Open Handset Alliance, an international coalition of 34 mobile operators, handset manufacturers, and semiconductor companies, announced today the development of Android, an open platform for mobile devices. The software development kit will deliver a complete package of software necessary for developing a mobile device: an operating system, middleware, and mobile applications. 

Project contributors include Google, T-Mobile, Samsung, and Nuance Communications, which have either donated intellectual property under an Apache v2 Open Source license, or ensured that their chipsets support the open platform. Ultimately, Android provides wide-scale access to technology and tools to build rich applications. 

"This is a really big deal," says Dan Miller, lead analyst at Opus Research. "Its impact is that Google’s making a statement along with its partners that the functionality of the Internet, not just search or mobility but for theWweb in general ought to extend out to mobile platforms. In contrast and in concert with something like the iPhone, which demonstrated to subscribers that there are all sorts of applications that should be running on your phone, this will open it up to a community of developers, self-described or whatever, and really drive or accelerate the pace at which Web applications appear on mobile devices." 

The open platform was initially conceived by Nick Sears, former vice president of consumer products at T-Mobile, Andy Rubin, CEO of Danger, which originally designed hiptop software, and Rich Miner, Google’s vice president of mobile. It is thought that the existence of the open platform will expedite the innovation of mobile devices and services.  Consumers should expect to see the first phones based on Android during the second half of 2008. 

"Working with Alliance will introduce speech applications to a global developer community and open new markets for our mobile business," said Steve Chambers, president of Nuance’s Mobile and Consumer Services Division. "We believe our collective efforts can unleash the true potential of the mobile phone," he continued.  Nuance’s contribution includes a suite of language models, services, and applications including mobile speech search and mobile professional services.     

"We’re hoping to see more mobile social applications and that sort of thing," Miller says.  "There will be less fragmentation. You’ll see more creativity and a different set of developers banding around an open alternative."

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