googlemobileGoogle announced Android on November 5, 2007, the core offering of the Open Handset Alliance a Linux-based reference OS for mobile devices that has support of 34 device manufacturers and application vendors. Why does the world need another mobile OS?

First of all, Linux for Mobile is not free for the manufacturers. Someone has to tune the OS and assemble the components and manage the version controls and interact with application developers. Linux does cost something for device manufacturers.

As well, Google needs to define its boundaries of its mobile world so that others can also participate. Folks like the device manufacturers have been wanting to break free of the walled garden for a long time. Ed Zaner, CEO of Motorola was referring exactly to this in the Wall Street Journal article where he was quoted as saying "I hate customers." He meant, he hates the innovation-sapping, nasty control of the mobile operators, but loves the consumers that ultimately pays for the phones.

In 2005, I would have told you that Voice over WiFi was going to change mobile networks, but now I realize that this won't happen. The technical challenges affecting the user experience in Voice over WiFi (quality of service, battery life) haven't really been solved in a meaningful way. VoWiFi is still a long ways away from having any effect.

Besides, this OS program is not about the existing world of mobile. Google needs a new device architecture to support its plan for next gen wireless services. The open world as proposed by Google is great for several reasons:

  • Linux is well understood by users, device manufacturers and application developers so the barriers to participation are low.
  • The big 3 of device manufacturers have committed to it: Nokia, Motorola and HTC. No doubt, Google is convincing them that the Google model is an innovation model of letting users decide what device they want/need.
  • Advertising-paid models can work. Advertising supported TV, cable and radio industries for many years. None of these media are location-specific or context-sensitive, something that Google can actually deliver.

This is why I'm so bullish on Google's participation in the mobile industry. They have the potential to change the market.


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