Despite weeks of speculation behind a mythical GPhone from Google (and the launch date officially being pinned down as today), their announcement was — kind of — expected in an unexpected way. Google, in an aptly titled blog post on their blog and surprise conference call (see CrunchGear’s unofficial stream here), unveiled an open-source, Linux-based Mobile OS platform called Android. Also announced was the forming of the Open Handset Alliance, a collaboration between 30 major technology companies who will be getting together and behind the project.
Android is one of the first major initiatives backed by so many technology companies at once. The platform includes an operating system, a user interface, and (Google) applications — all in the software end that’s needed for a phone except for the proprietary hardware. Based on Linux and Java, a developer SDK is likely to be unveiled sometime in the next week (talk about anti-Apple?) and Android-enabled phones will be found on your store shelves somewhere around late 2008.
Handset manufacturers and partners of the OHA — expectedly — include Motorola, Samsung, LG, T-Mobile, and HTC: these are the folks you’ll be dealing with to get your hands on the Google goodness. Other interesting and unexpected partners involved of the initiative include eBay, Intel, Synaptics (laptop touchpads), NVidia (graphics cards), and Marvell (semiconductors). The whole list can be found here.
The phone looks to be a competition and threat more to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Palm OS than to the iPhone or a particular device, though as is with any phone on the market, there is some overlap. The product — or platform rather — is not aimed at enterprise customers, and servers a lower, more consumer-level market.
For the web industry — which is one of the main reasons we’re covering the launch — it will mean broader reach of the Internet in terms of penetration in markets such as India (where the phone is the PC), and I can bet a number of web services and company will want to get their coffee-activated programmers working on making a third-party app as soon as the official SDK is released.
(Personal note: until I can see Android is made to lick, I’m not giving up on my iPhone)