Google Wants to Ride a New Wave – Cell Phones

Heady from its overwhelming success in the search arena, Google wants to extend its sway into the mobile arena as well.

On Monday, the Mountain View, California company rolled out a new alliance of 34 members called Open Handset Alliance to develop new cell phones based on open technology standards.

Google and other members of the Open Handset Alliance will spearhead development of the so-called Android technology that’s supposed to make it easier and cheaper to develop new features for cell phones.

Android, which is to be offered free of cost to handset makers, will include the popular open source Linux operating system, Sun Microsystems’ Java programming language as well as mobile applications.

Google is hoping that the new mobile phones will entice users to access more of its Internet services that today cater mostly to desktop and laptop users and provide a new platform for its ad services.  

Developers will get a peek at a beta of Android Software Development Kit (SDK) on November 12. The SDK is meant to let developers build rich mobile applications.

The Android platform will be released under the Apache v2 open source license to let phone makers and mobile phone operators add proprietary features to their products based on Android without needing to contribute anything back to the platform.

Other participants in the Open Handset Alliance include Intel, Broadcom, Samsung Electronics, Qualcomm, eBay, Texas Instruments, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, Motorola and Wind River Systems.

Phones based on Android are expected to debut in the second half of 2008.

It remains to be seen if Google can attract the big cell phone service providers like Verizon and AT&T to partner with it. Currently only second-tier mobile operators like T-Mobile and Sprint have jumped into bed with Google.

Then there is Apple and Microsoft to contend with.

Apple’s iPhone is already a big hit and Microsoft has been investing significant resources and plodding on for what seems like aeons in this segment.

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