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Open Handset Alliance Welcomes 14 New Members

Sony Ericcson, Toshiba and Vodafone are among 14 new members of the Open Handset Alliance, the Google-run consortium that seeks to make open-source mobile devices and applications.

Google

The addition of the 14 brings the total number of members to 47.

According to Google, AKM Semiconductor, ARM, ASUSTek Computer, Atheros Communications, Borgs, Ericsson, Garmin International, Huawei Technologies, Omron Software, Softbank Mobile, Sony Ericsson, Teleca AB, Toshiba and Vodafone are the latest to join the Android revolution.

The new members, along with existing members like Motorola, Sprint Nextel, HTC, T-Mobile, LG Electronics, Samsung and a host of others will either deploy devices compatible with Android, contribute code to the Android Open Source Project, or support the Android ecosystem through products and services to accelerate the availability of Android-based devices.

The addition of 14 members puts Android and the Open Handset Alliance in a better competitive position in the mobile and smartphone markets, which are dominated by Nokia and its Symbian platform, Research In Motion's BlackBerry operating system and Apple's iPhone platform.

"With these commitments, the Open Handset Alliance will continue to drive greater and faster innovation for the benefit of mobile users and everyone in the industry," Google said in a statement.

Most notable is the addition of Vodafone, the world's largest mobile phone carrier.

Also notable among the new members is Sony Ericsson, which has officially thrown its hat into the Android ring and announced its intention to build an Android-based device.

"We believe Sony Ericsson can bring a wealth of experience in making consumer-focused multimedia handsets with new user experience to the Alliance drawing on the successes of the Walkman and Syber-shot subbrands," said Rikko Sakaguchi, CVP and head of creation and development at Sony Ericsson, in a statement.

Sony Ericsson is following in the footsteps of Motorola, which just months ago announced it will focus on developing an Android-based mobile device.

The latest additions to the alliance come after the October release of the first publicly available Android-based smartphone, the HTC-made T-Mobile G1. And just last week, Australian-based Kogan Technologies began taking domestic and international preorders for two Android-based phones, the Agora and the Agora Pro, which are expected to ship in January.

Google launched the Open Handset Alliance about a year ago, when it pulled the curtain back on Android, its open-source operating system. Google designed Android to give hardware and software makers, along with wireless carriers, an open-source platform that lets them build new devices and develop applications in a bid to make a mobile ecosystem of devices and applications that are cheaper to build and deploy.

While the Open Handset Alliance brings together several top handset makers, mobile operators, software companies, semiconductor companies and commercialization companies, there are still some notable absences. So far, neither AT&T nor Verizon Wireless, two top carriers in the U.S., are alliance members.

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