Google finally broke cover on its mobile plans earlier this week with the launch of the really nicely named Android. Rather than go it alone they choose the in vogue collaborative approach with the launch of their Open Handset Alliance.
Google and its 33 partners in the Open Handset Alliance are betting that together they can reshape the mobile phone industry by offering a free (Linux-based) mobile phone operating system and software "stack" dubbed Android.
Will it succeed?
Good question and as always in depends you ask:
On the nay side - Symbian's VP of strategy John Forsyth said Google lacked experience. Making a "mobile OS is a very specialized form of rocket science," Forsyth said. "It's not search rocket science." Forsyth later went on to say that alliances like Google's Open Handset Alliance are formed every few months--"a bit like the common cold. It keeps coming round and then we go back to business." Ouch
To be fair Symbian (smartphone operating system vendor) have a lot (maybe the most) to lose as Google and its (experienced) pals is offering not only an open but also a free operating platform to developers that on the surface at least could move the market on alot.
Microsoft (another smartphone operating system vendor) were also alittle defensive about Google's Android project: "It really sounds like they are getting a whole bunch of people together to build a phone and that's something we've been doing for five years,"
Is Google's approach new? - well no - its reminiscent of Nokia’s efforts over the last few years with its Series 60 software which is open to third party developers. Yankee Group, a US-based research firm, says: “Taken alone, there is nothing fundamentally unique or new about the Alliance. It is reminiscent of other structures such as the Open Mobile Terminal Platform (OMTP) initiative, Mobile Services Architecture (MSA), and several Linux-oriented initiatives. “
Does the collaborative approach reduces the chances of failure? - well no “The telecoms landscape is littered with failed or wobbly alliances and overlapping initiatives,” says Martin Garner, mobile practice leader at Ovum, the specialist telecoms consultancy. “Most of the players in the alliance have plenty of first hand experience in this and, being cynical for a moment, it costs a vendor very little at this stage to join the alliance and say nice things about it.”
Per Lindberg, analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort sums it up best.''The Open Handset Alliance is a dream scenario, where everyone will work together, no one will be greedy and software will be free. It is not going to happen,” “Motorola and Samsung are not really going to start sharing software. But what will happen is that Google’s search, maps, email and other applications will be pre-installed on a lot of phones.”
We agree with you Per - in our view this is a stealth tactic to get Google apps on lots and lots of phones so they can extend their ad serving services to mobile and complete the set.
So Android is not only a good name its an appropriate one as it has the very real potential to be a very real and scary monster!
Smart (but somewhat scary) boys