Google's Android Gains More Powerful Followers

Posted by: Olga Kharif on December 9, 2008

Today is a dark day for Nokia and Microsoft: Telco Vodafone, equipment maker Ericsson and handset maker Sony Ericsson have joined Google’s camp in making rival cell-phone software.

Today, Open Handset Alliance (OHA), a Google-led consortium of companies developing mobile-phone software Android, announced 14 new members, these three huge companies among them. Other impressive additions include AKM Semiconductor Inc., ARM, ASUSTek Computer Inc., Atheros Communications, Borqs, Garmin International Inc., Huawei Technologies, Omron Software Co. Ltd, Softbank Mobile Corporation, Teleca AB and Toshiba Corporation.

What does it all mean? One, that sales of the first Android-based phone, the T-Mobile G1, must be going very well. Only available for sale since this fall, the iPhone-like device made by long-time OHA member HTC is expected to sell around 500,000 units this year. Now, handset makers like new member Ericsson, which plans to release its Android device in mid-2009, want in on the action — particularly since the cost of Android-based handsets is lower than that of phones made with operating systems from Nokia and Microsoft, according to researcher NPD Group. Motorola recently announced it’s going to focus on Android come next year as well.

Second, and most important, carriers and handset makers who’ve just joined the Alliance are, in effect, expressing their dissatisfaction with Android’s long-established rivals, Nokia’s Symbian and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile software. And no wonder. Symbian is going through a major restructuring, and it’s unclear exactly what it will look like come next year. Microsoft has been losing developer interest, sources tell me.

The bottom line: Until today, Android’s future looked uncertain. Only a minor handset maker, HTC, was making Android-based phones. T-Mobile was the only carrier globally to offer G1, and only in a few markets, including the U.S. Motorola’s support helped but not that much, as the company is in a fragile financial state, and its own future is unclear. That’s why today’s announcement is so important. Vodafone’s support is huge. The carrier has 280 million customers worldwide. Sony Ericsson’s involvement is important as well (larger handset makers like LG are already part of the Alliance). Clearly, big guns are joining this game, and lining up their pawns on Google’s side.

A side note: I find it interesting to see Austek and Toshiba in the new members list. It’s long been expected that Android will be used not only in phones but also in netbooks, which are tiny laptops with screens of less than 10.2 inches. Austek is the largest player in the netbooks category, and today’s announcement could indicate that Android-based netbooks may be coming out, and soon.

Reader Comments

Michael Martin

December 10, 2008 12:56 AM

It will either be ASUS or Garmin that comes out with the G2 next year if its not HTC.

ASUS may in fact find that sought after middle ground between smart phones and netbooks, creating a netphone.

,Michael Martin
http://www.googleandblog.com/

Chris

December 10, 2008 2:21 AM

Amazing !! Nobody is asking WHY Google is into handset SW. Answer, advertizing. They depend on advertizing and consumer marketing and its built into Androis, we just have'nt seen it yet. Frankly, I prefer Symbian without commercial ads to to coming storm of ads that will pop up on the phone once Google unleashes ads on the unsuspecting public.

At that point it becomes a price war competition between Google and others with advantage to Google unless Symbian intro's commercials on Symbian.

Any way you look at it the smartphone experience will become more frustrating.

Kame

December 10, 2008 2:40 AM

My perspective on some of your bottom lines: unless a market is monopolized or manipulated, which are anti-trust in our free-enterprise system, the future of endeavours such as Android and OHA always "looks" uncertain; HTC is not "only a minor hanset maker", it has been an original design manufacturer of PDAs and ultra-mobile PCs for Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, HP/Compaq, i-mate, Krome, Sharp Corp., and UTStarcom for nearly 10 years, and has been Nokia's main competitor in the smartphone sector, the fastest growing mobile telecommunications sector, for the past few years, making amongst the most versatile and robust smartphones very popular to those of us that know the facts. Is it not interesting (revealing) that Google did not pick a "big gun" to make a product it wanted to prove a point by!

forever4now

December 10, 2008 4:52 AM

Excellent news! The more companies (vendors and service providers) signed on and participating, the faster Android will mature.

Android seems like a no-brainer to adopt. Everyone benefits because:

1. It is a small, fast, stable and license-free mobile platform.

2. It is community developed. There is no need to wait for a single company to decide if/when they will deliver something.

3. It provides an application delivery platform for value-added applications/services (free or revenue generating).

4. It is open source, so it can be custom tailored by device vendors for the desired look-and-feel.

2009 looks like it could be very exciting for Android.

Rex

December 10, 2008 6:20 AM

Poorly researched article. Symbian will soon be license-free, and what on earth is "Austek"?

Sachin

December 10, 2008 6:33 AM

Now I wonder... what will be the future of Apple?

Sachin

Camille

December 10, 2008 7:36 AM

What is this new brand, Austek? Austrian Teknologies? Isn't it Asustek?

Naresh

December 10, 2008 7:50 AM

It's good news to hear... I am just waiting for the piece which comes 100-200$ without any contract..(unlocked) like HTC or any other venodr..

Thanks to Google for Android

Gary Burnett

December 10, 2008 8:01 AM

Google's aim has always been to be a dominant player in the internet world. Now that dimension has extended to communications. What could be next?

Jon T

December 10, 2008 8:05 AM


We know why Vodafone is going Android, don't we?

Specially made for it, Vodafone is inundated with Blackberry Storm's being returned by very unhappy customers.

I got the Storm sales pitch in a Vodafone store this week and it contained several errors. The most notable being that it 'definitely, yes, definitely' would connect and work on wifi networks. (It doesn't).

Shantul Nigam

December 10, 2008 8:31 AM

Kind of strange seeing this happen. IBM created the Java/Linux strategy and has kind of followed it. IBM and others fumbled the ball and left it to Google to find the gold mine. It is really beginning to sound like the next great OS is from Google.

I am desperately waiting for AT&T to get on board! Getting ready to switch carriers if they don't.

Jillian

December 10, 2008 10:01 AM

Until Andriod can support corporate email sync I will continue to use my Windows Mobile Phone. Hopefully they will fix this soon and give some options to us business users (and no the blackberry - any blackberry - is not an option)

Triedstone

December 10, 2008 10:12 AM

All im asking them to make is a 3g phone i can use as a modem that has flash lite 3 that i can test mobile video dev on!

Idgaf

December 10, 2008 11:16 AM

ASUSTek is better known as Asus.
They are a large reliable manufacturer of
high quality product products.
As Android matures and more players get involved the default attributes of the operating system will change.
Android was intially developed by Google and is currently under their stewardship but nothing evil is happening from Googles involvement ,the license will allows great latitude.
Certainly more than Microsoft or Symbian have allowed ever.
Other OS's are now changing their licensing terms as a direct result of Androids existence.
Consumers win ,for once.

Scott

December 10, 2008 11:59 AM

I would already own an Android phone if Verizon offered one. Now I have to wait.

I believe Google has a much bigger strategy we have seen yet. The Android phone with a docking station could replace laptops.

gerrrg

December 10, 2008 1:50 PM

Speaking of G1, I'm browsing the news this moment with my G1, and I'm pretty thrilled that Google got into the handset OS biz. The GUI is excellent, and the number of apps keep growing.

With my 8 GB micrSD card, I can store a lot of mp3s on my phone, and listen while I go for a walk, etc. And now there's an app so that I can stream internet radio without draining the battery.

Very cool.

Tony A

December 10, 2008 5:41 PM

This is a diversionary tactic by Google. In the long run, Android will mature and come back as a desktop OS to replace Windows.

Smalltalker

December 10, 2008 6:05 PM

It is unfortunate that the author did not do even basic research on the sales numbers for the G1. T-Mobile had received 1.5 Million preorders for G1 before it ever launched. That includes only existing T-Mobile customers. Everyone else had to wait for the launch date to join the party. So I would estimate 4th qtr 2008 sales numbers for the G1 to be somewhere around 2 million units.

miamiman

December 10, 2008 6:15 PM

Open Source... no turning back.

Chris C

December 10, 2008 6:24 PM

K

December 10, 2008 6:29 PM

wish LG was not apart of this.
They will cause the Android phones to rise in price.
LG has been caught already for price fixing there LCD Screens.

But cant wait for a newer version of the G phones the G1 has pitiful battery life.

David

December 10, 2008 6:31 PM

Why the sudden rush? The rumored Zunephone is suppose to be announced next year. Internal documents have shown that Microsoft is interested in creating a Zunephone because Windows Mobile has not been a rousing success.

Phone manufactures are suddenly realized that they may be competing against Microsoft itself in the Smartphone market. Windows Mobile has only been strong in the corporate market. With Microsoft entering the handset manufacturing business, you might find your Windows Mobile phone competing against Microsoft itself. Not a good position to be in.

Girish Chandra

December 10, 2008 6:40 PM

Compete! Compete! Compete!

The more the companies compete, the more we will benefit. Hope Android rises high...and hope Symbian and other competitors come up with something to make advanced..affordable.

Mike

December 10, 2008 6:42 PM

"Nobody is asking WHY Google is into handset SW. Answer, advertizing."

Both Windows Mobile and Symbian systems are so user-hostile that they are impeding adoption of the mobile Internet. In addition, Microsoft has an interest in tying their phones to their desktop software and services, maintaining their monopoly.

Google doesn't need to make a dime from Android-related advertising; simply giving people an alternative to the rotten technologies that dominate the market right now is a win in itself.

bryan

December 10, 2008 6:45 PM

1. Once smart phones get a good fast and powerful OS and get good fast connection speeds, a lot of people will get these instead of bigger/heavier and more expensive computers/laptops. Think about it, what else do you need on the go? Internet browser so you can goof off and surf the net to stay in touch, maps/directions, find places to visit if are traveling and that's about it. To stay in touch. That's all 90% of the population needs.
2. Google adds will be like they are now I would imagine so I don't expect pop up adds any time soon.
3. When Android 2.0 hits the market with a hot phone (HTC Touch HD Pro?? (can't stand the G1) I will jump ship off of Verizon.

Georg

December 10, 2008 6:46 PM

I would buy a netbook with a phone on it /slash/ a phone with a netbook on it. If these are going for $400 w/o phone or contract, the carrier could subsidize and it would cost the same as an iPhone. Except with longer battery, bigger (though not better) screen, and a real keyboard (no more tappy tap). Give me an app store and i'm there!

Sam

December 10, 2008 6:51 PM

I see that using a link to http://www.letmegooglethatforyou.com/?q=austek is faster than http://www.google.com/search?q=austek

No, that wasn't a complete waste of your 10 days development.

cud

December 10, 2008 7:37 PM

I have NOT ONCE EVER wanted to stab any of Google's development team in the face.

I can not WAIT to chuck my Palm (still better than Windows CrapEdition/Crapberry/iFail) for an Android based smartphone.

Nokia makes good stuff too, I see the handset wars as a 3 way fight, Google vs Nokia vs Apple's Marketing division.

I'd love to see them set sights on the desktop OS market as well, but I don't look for it anytime soon, as they would need to have robust applications to compete with the likes of Office (OpenOffice doesn't cut it), be able to run WoW and other PC games natively (that is not in a way that confuses stupid people like Liunux/Wine sometimes does.), as well as have some confidence that 99% of all the hardware out there will play well with it.

Kind of a tall order.

Chris C

December 11, 2008 2:00 PM

@Sam:

I think the point of the "Let Me Google That For you" site was to poke fun at people that post "What is X" rather than looking it up for themselves. Speed is not necessarily the issue :)

LOGO

December 12, 2008 8:43 AM

What an absurd article! Those same supporters behind Adroid are also behind the Symbian Foundation, till now the most used (40% market share), most stable and most tested mobile OS ever!!!

Since Symbian is OPEN now and FREE it's only a matter of time till everybody will ditch all other useless buggy OS's currently on the market. If Nokia alone were to sell all their phones, even low end ones, with Symbian then we'd have a Symbian dominated market share of 60% world wide!!!

Symbian is in the mobile market what Windows is on the PC market, except that it's an OPEN OS vs a M$ spy OS.

I've used all other OS's and Symbian is by far the best and most stable OS I've ever come across.

joshooi

December 15, 2008 1:49 AM

Android could become an OS for netbooks and give netbooks a mobile phone function. Asus EE PC or any like mini PC could becomne a great communication device with enough large screen to do everything.

Post a comment

 

About

Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

Categories

 

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!