A La Mobile Takes Android Demo Handset To Europe


"Of course the release generated a lot of interest, but I was very surprised by the warm and enthusiastic reception," she says, noting the meetings, which took place in the U.K., Germany and France had been arranged months in advance. "Everybody is interested in having a look at it."

Alker said she did not feel comfortable naming any of the companies she met, though she mentioned the companies include handset vendors, mobile operators and potential partners. After wrapping up in France, she will head to Taiwan and then South Korea for more demo meetings.

"People view us as the expert right now because we've been dedicated for 2 years to doing exactly what we're doing. Therefore, people want our opinion, and we offer it," she says. "Seeing is believing, and it's about seeing something that is running."

Despite the wave of publicity A La Mobile's announcement caused, the company is not a member of the Open Handset Alliance, of which Google is. Google remained largely silent after the A La Mobile announcement, though rumors on the Internet suggested Google was less than pleased the company rushed ahead with an unfinished Android SDK.

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A Google spokeswoman says the company would be open to hearing from companies who want to join the OHA as long as they are "willing to make serious and ongoing contributions to openness" and commented on A La Mobile's decision to tour their Android smartphone.

"We're excited about the enthusiasm we're seeing around Android and welcome talking to any company who is willing to make a significant contribution to the platform," said the spokeswoman. "It's important to note that this is an early release of the SDK for developer testing and input. The statement noted the final source code will be released under open source after the first OHA approved phone ships in the second half of 2008.

Informa principal analyst Malik Saadi says he feels A La Mobile is an innovative company but lacks the clot to compete with the leading players in the mobile software business. "Although A La Mobile offers a valuable Linux productization service to the mobile industry, the company is in a weak strategic position given the limited funding it enjoys," he says. "It will have to secure multiples of seed funding if it is to succeed in competitive terminal software landscape in general and the very complex market of Linux in particular.

Saadi waves off suggestions Google is miffed at A La Mobile for releasing a functioning demo. "The release of A La Mobile platform and similar solutions based on the unfinished version of Android are good proof that the framework could lead to the development of a wealth of mobile applications and features while reducing the complexity of terminal software development and product time to market," he says. "These developments are rather encouraging signs for OHA in general and Google in particular and prove that Android is a viable solution even at its early stage of maturity. This would certainly encourage device vendors and operators to confidently consider adopting the finalised platform in a large scale."

A La Mobile's ability to extend their contacts and ride the wave of publicity they've generated will be important if the company is to remain a player in the Android rollout. "More efforts have to be done from strategic point of view including partnerships with mobile operators and OEMs if the company needs its achievements to be widely recognised by the industry," he says.

Saadi singles out securing research and development funding, development of a strong marketing strategy and the creation of more partnerships in the development community as key strategies A La Mobile should consider. Even then, he says, establishing a Linux footprint in Europe will be no small task.

"Even Motorola, the leading vendor of Linux handsets has struggled to convince European operators in adopting its Linux based devices," he says. "So, A La Mobile will probably find some level of success in Asia Pacific where the market is more flexible, but it will certainly find it hard to make it to the European and North American markets."