Google to enter wireless world market with software

The Internet giant now confirmed it was working with 30 companies, including some of the world's biggest handset makers and wireless service providers, such as U.S. phone makers Motorola Inc, HTC, LG, Samsung and Qualcomm Inc Taiwan's High Tech Computer and German-based carrier T-Mobile. And it will be available in the United States through T-Mobile and Sprint.

Mobile phones based on Google’s software are not expected to be available until the second half of next year. The phones will also be available through the world’s largest mobile operator, China Telecom, with 332 million subscribers in China, and the leading carriers in Japan, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, as well as T-Mobile in Germany, Telecom Italia in Italy and Telef√≥nica in Spain.

The 34-member Open Handset Alliance, as the group is called, also includes many of the leading makers of mobile phone chips, like Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, as well as SiRF Technology Holdings, Marvell Technology Group, Nvidia and Synaptics. EBay (which owns the Internet calling service Skype), Nuance Communications, NMS Communications and Wind River Systems are also members of the group.

The technology is expected to provide cellular handset manufacturers and wireless operators with capabilities that match and potentially surpass those using smartphone software made by Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, Palm, Research in Motion and others. In contrast to the existing competitors, Google’s software will be offered freely under “open source” licensing terms, meaning that handset manufacturers will be able to use it at no cost and be free to add new features to differentiate their products.

The software could lead to cheaper phones as it is designed to speed up the process of making mobile services. The first phones using the so-called Google "software stack" will be available in the second half of 2008.

As speculation about Google’s efforts trickled out over the last several months, expectations that the company would build what has been called a Google Phone or GPhone have mounted. But for now at least, Google will not put its brand on a phone. The software running on the phones may not even display the Google logo. Instead, Google is giving the software away to others who will build the phones.

The company invested heavily in the project to ensure that all of its services are available on mobile phones. Its ultimate goal is to cash in on the effort by selling advertisements to mobile phone users, just as it does on Internet-connected computers.

“We are not building a GPhone; we are enabling 1,000 people to build a GPhone,” said Andy Rubin who is 44 years old, Google’s director of mobile platforms, who led the effort to develop the software. "This is going to bring the internet into cell phones in a very cool way," Andy Rubin adds.

Android was the name of a small start-up Google acquired in 2005 that was founded by Andy Rubin, a veteran Silicon Valley gadget designer, and the software it developed forms the basis of the new stack. Google's Android software will be provided to handset makers free of charge and could lead to a price war for operating system licenses and potentially cheaper handsets.

Sprint Nextel Corp, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service and a member of the alliance, said the system will be based on open-source Linux code and Sun Microsystems Java language, and available to phone makers and carriers without license fees. It is expected to support applications from different developers as well as Google Web search, e-mail and mapping, according to Sprint. It is designed so programmers can easily build applications that connect to independent Web services.

As an example, Mr. Rubin said the company’s StreetView feature of Google Maps could easily be coupled — mashed up, in technology speak — with another service listing the current geographical location of friends.

Mr. Rubin also said that a program like Gmail could attach a photo to an e-mail message, regardless of whether the photo was stored in the phone’s memory or on a Web site.

A week from today, the alliance plans to make available tools for third-party programmers, called a software developers’ kit, Mr. Rubin said. But the group’s core technology itself will not be made available under an open-source license until it is commercially ready sometime next year, Mr. Rubin said.

Mr. Rubin also said that in the future, the Google technology could be used in other portable devices, including small hand-held computers and car navigation systems.

Read Google Press Release.


Source : New York Times, Reuters, BBC News, FOXNews


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