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Calling Google: More Than Just A gPhone

Google's foray into the mobile world may be a big step toward voice becoming an application, as opposed to a disparate system within an IT framework.

Google operating system

Jonathan Schwartz, CEO of Sun Microsystems, even offered contragulations to Google on his corporate blog and wrote he'd like Sun to be the first platform software company to commit to a complete developer environment around Android.

"We've obviously done a ton of work to support developers on all Java based platforms, and were pleased to add Google's Android to the list," Schwartz wrote. "Needless to say, Google and the Open Handset Alliance just strapped another set of rockets to the community's momentum -- and to the vision defining opportunity across our (and other) planets."

Google's foray into the mobile world is a big step toward voice becoming an application, as opposed to a disparate system within an IT framework, said Rick Sizemore, chief strategy and business development officerat MultiMedia Intelligence, a market research and consulting firm in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"For me this is one small piece of a larger trend. The cellular operator is providing access, rather than voice services. Once upon a time the handset was a voice only device. Now we see the debate on whether a handset is becoming a mobile Internet device," he said. Google's approach, aligning itself with technology partners and an open-source platform, should lead to more innovation and market interest, Sizemore said.

"Contrast Google's announcement to what the Apple approach was with the iPhone. Apple is very hardware centric. They produce hardware, closed systems. They do the hardware, the software. Google is not a hardware company. They like to provide infrastructure support through entire ecosystems. For Google to do what they're doing, they need to establish ecosystems for companies like Motorola, Samsung. They tied the ecosystem they developed to the hardware and support that with infrastructure and applications.

Google doesn't make a computer. It provides services over the backbone. That's the thing they're trying to replicate in the mobile space," Sizemore said. Sizemore was impressed with the quantity and quality of Open Handset Alliance members. "They got the big ones, the companies that matter, the big handset providers," he said.

One glaring omission was Nokia, which was not surprising given that company's own services initiative, Sizemore said. "They're borderline competitors with the operators themselves. They just launched a music store in the U.K. themselves," he said.

Other members of the Open Handset Alliance said next week's expected release of the software development kit will help the platform succeed in the marketplace. "There are a lot of benefits to this platform, being open. Next week, we'll have more to say," said Bill Davis, vice president of business development at Ascender, an Elk Grove, Ill., company that creates fonts for mobile devices. "It's going to provide a rich platform for developers like us to be innovative. When you open up a platform, the whole mobile market will benefit. It raises the tide for everybody."

The Alliance should solve a big problem with Linux over the mobile handset market for the last decade -- fragmentation, said Tim Fahey, marketing manager for mobile solutions at Windriver, an Alameda, Calif.-based device software optimization (DSO) company.

"People were doing really relevant proprietary vs. open source. The fact that you have these major leaguers behind the OHA, means this has a better chance to be adopted, a better chance of being a consolidator in the industry," he said. "Immediately out of the shoot, there will be commercialization efforts by [third-party companies]. People will turn to sub-kernel turning, performance optimization. They'll also look to us for Linux support, distribution and tools that support that Linux distribution."

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