Finally Google talks about its plans for the cell phone industry and the rumors around the web about GPhone and other similarly related speculative projections turned out to be an multi-national alliance of key players in the mobile phone industry though not all of them. The Open Handset Alliance comprised of some 34 companies at the time of its announcements and this alliance is build around Google’s Android platform. The members of the alliance are expected to release Android based equipment by sometime next year.
Google is primarily a service company and its bread and butter remains search from which it gains revenue through advertisement. Expanding this model to cell phones and other mobile devices would expand the reach of Google Ad platform and capabilities. While this is obviously the eventual target of Google’s mobile strategy, it has to do battle with the traditional way in which players in the mobile industry have done business. The players in the mobile industry tend to be generally restrictive of how their networks and devices are used: they have such control over their equipment and services that they are able to effectively lock out third party developers as well as bar any users who do not comply with their terms. Also of interest is that the Android platform puts Google in competition with existing smart phone software providers like Microsoft (Windows Mobile), Nokia (Symbian), Apple (iPhone), Palm (Palm OS) and RIM (Research In Motion, makers of the Blackberry). At this point the Android platform has not yet been released but there will definitely be comparisons between the capabilities available in the Android relative to its more established competition.
Increased mobile devices capabilities mean that the use of the internet will be pervasive amongst those who will own a cell phone as their first gateway onto the information super highway. Google seems to be making the right moves with the Android platform and making it open is definitely a move that makes sense because it allows for innovation. Innovations and pushing the envelope is important for the key population of the world who will access the internet primarily through their mobile devices; these people are likely to be living in the emerging markets and the model that the cell phone industry has used the world over may not be effective to realizing revenues from mobile services subscribers in the emerging markets. As with all analysis of how technology will evolve and diffuse over time, it is only time that will tell the true and accurate story of what becomes of initiatives such as the Open Handset Alliance.