Internet giant, Google Inc., announced its first major foray into the
wireless industry yesterday, unveiling an ambitious plan to partner with
carriers, handset makers, and software developers, and create an opensource
operating platform for mobile phones.
Android, as the forthcoming mobile OS has been dubbed, will bring cell phone
functionality closer to that of computers, making it easier for users to surf
the web on the go. It will be designed to overcome the challenges of viewing web
pages on a small screen, and encourage the cell phone industry to liberalize
what subscribers can do with their phones.
A large customer base for Android will undoubtedly boost Google’s share of the
emerging mobile advertising business. Wireless search advertising already
generates revenues of $30 million per year in the U.S. alone, and is expected to
grow to $1.4 billion by 2012, according to the Kelsey Group, a market research
Google’s Android system will threaten Yahoo’s early lead in the mobile search
sector, as well as Microsoft’s growing share of the mobile software market.
“This is the most direct challenge that Google has offered Microsoft to date,”
commented Roger Kay, a technology analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates.
“Microsoft has to take a real deep breath and decide what it is going to do
Google has already assembled a consortium of 34 companies, called the Open
Handset Alliance, which will support and promote the Android system once it is
launched. This consortium includes wireless chipmakers such as Intel, Qualcomm,
and Broadcom handset makers like Motorola, Samsung, and LG and potential
carrier partners including Sprint and TMobile in the United States and
Telefonica and Telecom Italia in Europe.
Each of these companies has agreed to support the development of Google’s
software platform, although not all have formally committed to using it.
Nevertheless, Google’s significant clout in the global technology sector has
given it a significant base of support and resources to work with in the months
The first Androidbased mobile devices are expected to hit the market sometime
in the second half of 2008.