Google Announces 'Android' Mobile Platform (Google Phones?)

Google, along with over 30 other companies, today announced the formation of an "open phone coalition" for the purpose of developing a mobile platform for future phones. From their website:

Welcome to the Open Handset Alliance, a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies who have come together to accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience. Together we have developed Android, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform.

The core of the platform will be a Linux-based system alongside Java and is said to deliver a complete set of software for mobile devices: the operating system, middleware and key mobile applications. An early look at the Android software development kit will be provided on November 12th. Android's developer's kit is open and does not differentiate between core phone applications vs third party applications. All applications are said to be created equally with full access to the phone's capabilities. User customization is featured as a big feature:

With devices built on the Android Platform, users will be able to fully tailor the phone to their interests. They can swap out the phone's homescreen, the style of the dialer, or any of the applications. They can even instruct their phones to use their favorite photo viewing application to handle the viewing of all photos.

The aliiance consists of over 30 companies, including T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel, Motorola, and Samsung. Notably absent are Apple, Palm and AT&T.

Commercial handsets based on the Android platform are not expected to come to market until the second half of 2008.

Some relevant details from Engadget's transcript of the press event:

- "minimum reqs is about a 200MHz ARM9, software is compatible with small screens, large screens, QWERTY, non-QWERTY..." so apparently it's hardware flexible"
- "This one is open. In two ways: devs can put apps on top of it, and the whole OS is open source, so anyone can take it and modify it to their needs."
- Q: "Eric, I want to go back to the Gphone -- what's the deal?" Eric: "The deal is we don't pre-announce products... if there WERE to be a Gphone, it would run Android."

In all, many details remain unanswered, but more information should be coming on November 12th.

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