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Wed, Nov 07, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Google pushes open mobile platform

ANDROID The Internet leader has signed up 33 firms to promote a common platform that would no longer restrict the ability to install and access programs and content


Google revealed the first official details of its plans to revolutionize mobile phones, announcing alliances on Monday with 33 device manufacturers and carriers.

Google hopes the initiative will lead to better mobile services at much lower cost than those currently provided.

The Mountain View, California-based Internet leader did not show details of any of the handsets which it said would be available by the middle of next year. Instead Google revealed details about the commonly shared software platform -- called Android -- that will be free to use for all 34 members of the "Open Handset Alliance" that it began organizing last year.

With the new initiative, Google hopes to bring about the end of closed cellphone systems in which the powerful carriers control the content and programs users can install and access on their mobile phones.

"This partnership will help unleash the potential of mobile technology for billions of users around the world," Google chairman and chief executive Eric Schmidt said in a statement.

He added that a "fresh approach to fostering innovation in the mobile industry will help shape a new computing environment that will change the way people access and share information in the future."

Google is working with four mobile manufacturers -- Samsung, High Tech Computer Corp (宏達電) Motorola and LG -- to create the handsets. The telecom companies involved include China Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefonica in Spain and Deutsche Telekom. Its US subsidiary T-Mobile will offer the Google phones in the US, along with Sprint Nextel, while NTT DoCoMO will lead the effort in Japan. Companies such as Intel, Qualcom and Wind River Systems are among the key technology partners.

"This is a shot that is going to be heard around the world, but it's just the first shot in what is going to be a very protracted battle in the next frontier of the mobile web," said analyst Michael Gartenberg, at Jupiter Research.

The aim is to bring the mobile phone model closer to the open model of the Internet, where the owner of a computer can use whatever applications and content they wish without needing permission from the owners of the Internet data lines.

By pooling the knowledge of the 34 members of the alliance and releasing it to the public following the release of the first wave of phones, Google also hopes to dramatically reduce the cost of development, which is increasingly dominated by large companies with the resources to master the ever-more complicated cellphone technology.

"We want there to be thousands of types of phones, not just a Google phone," said Google executive Andy Rubin, who has run the Android project since its inception. "The idea is to build a common phone platform that nobody owns -- it's never been done before -- and let people build on it from there."

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