Google Reveals Phone Plans And Alliance With Intel, Sprint, Others

Google announced plans Monday to develop a Linux-based mobile operating system named Android to run on cell phones for Sprint, Motorola, Samsung and others.

The operating system will allow Google to affix a multitude of its other offerings to mobile users, offerigns from search to e-mail to mapping to Apps. The first phones could hit the street as early as next spring up to the middle of 2008, according to the company.

In all, Google and 33 others companies have joined to form the Open Handset Alliance, which aims to develop technologies that will significantly lower the cost of developing and distributing mobile devices and services, according to a release

The Android platform, named after a Silicon Valley start-up that Google acquired in 2005, is the first step in this direction -- a fully integrated mobile software stack that consists of an operating system, middleware, user-friendly interface and applications, the release continued.

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The Alliance's full roster includes: Aplix, Ascender, Audience, Broadcom, China Mobile, eBay , Esmertec, Google, HTC, Intel, KDDI, LivingImage, LG, Marvell, Motorola, NMS Communications, Noser, NTT DoCoMo, Nuance, Nvidia, PacketVideo, Qualcomm, Samsung, SiRF, SkyPop, SONiVOX, Sprint Nextel, Synaptics, TAT - The Astonishing Tribe, Telecom Italia, Telefnica, Texas Instruments, T-Mobile and Wind River.

The open-source platform allows mobile operators, device manufacturers and third-party vendors the ability design their own products and applications for the phone.

Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms, outlined plans for Android. "We see Android as an important part of our strategy of furthering Google's goal of providing access to information to users wherever they are," wrote Rubin. "We recognize that many among the multitude of mobile users around the world do not and may never have an Android-based phone. Our goals must be independent of device or even platform. For this reason, Android will complement, but not replace, our longstanding mobile strategy of developing useful and compelling mobile services and driving adoption of these products through partnerships with handset manufacturers and mobile operators around the world."

Next week the Alliance is expected to release a software development kit with tools necessary to create applications for the platform. The impact of Android will be felt across all players in the mobile environment, according to Forrester Research wireless analyst Charles Golvin.

"[The announcement will drive] innovative developers to craft new applications that leverage both the mobile networks and the Internet, and helping to change the way consumers behave when on the go," he said. "Google is far from the only beneficiary, as competitors like Yahoo and even Microsoft stand to benefit should they embrace this approach. The impact will build slowly over time as initially the devices using this platform will form a very small percentage of the market."

There are more than 3 billion mobile phone users worldwide and Alliance members believe the lack of a collaborative effort to date has posed challenges for wireless operators and users. Through Android, Alliance members believe new products can be developed and introduced more quickly and more cost effectively.

"Intel joined the Open Handset Alliance to create opportunities to innovate in the mobile market segment. The Android platform can enhance Intel's new low-power products that will enable an emerging class of mobile Internet devices that bring to life the full Internet experience on products that are small enough to fit in your pocket, and meet the uncompromising performance needs of users on the go," said Gary Willihnganz, director of marketing for Intel's Ultra Mobile Group, in a statement.

Steve Chambers, president of the Mobile and Consumer Services division at Nuance Communications, said the opportunity to access speech solutions through open APIs will lead to the development of more advanced speech features. "We believe deep collaboration with members of the Alliance will grow our core mobile business and fuel the proliferation of speech-enabled applications worldwide," he said in the statement.