Google sets sights on the mobile world with Android
Google has unveiled an ambitious plan to expand into the mobile market with the launch of a 34-strong global alliance of mobile and technology companies, which will create a software operating system, called Android, compatible across networks and handsets around the world.
The search giant has agreed a deal with a host of companies, including T-Mobile, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, LG and HTC, dubbed the Open Handset Alliance. Google said it would allow wireless operators and manufacturers to access a software package incorporating an operating system featuring Google search for mobiles.
Significantly, Google has signed China Mobile as one of its partners, giving Google access to one of the fastest growing markets in the world.
The company said the new Android operating system and user interface, expected to appear on handsets from the second half of 2008, would enable technology companies to start developing new applications for mobiles at a more rapid pace.
According to its founders, the alliance will create "unprecedented benefits" for consumers, developers and manufacturers of mobile services and devices, allowing them to customise new products featuring more user-friendly tools and capabilities. It is also promising it will be cheaper for consumers.
At present, mobile developers have the problem of new technology not being compatible across all handsets, but because Android is based on "open source" technology, it will work on many different networks, paving the way for more mobile services, such as games and entertainment, that were previously only marketable across a limited range of handsets.
Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, said: "This partnership will help unleash the potential of mobile technology for billions of users around the world. A fresh approach to fostering innovation in the mobile industry will help shape a new computing environment that will change the way people access and share information in the future."
He added that the formation of Android was "more ambitious" than the launch of a Google Phone, which has been speculated in the press for months, and will lead to less expensive mobile devices featuring internet-rich applications and easier to use interfaces.
Rene Obermann, chief executive officer of T-Mobile's parent company Deutsche Telekom, said: "Google has been an established partner for T-Mobile's groundbreaking approach to bring the mobile open internet to the mass market.
"We see the Android platform as an exciting opportunity to launch the robust wireless internet and web 2.0 services for T-Mobile customers in the US and Europe in 2008."
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