No Gphone, But Google Announces 'Android' Mobile Platform

In a somewhat successful marketing ploy that shows Google has indeed learned something from Steve Jobs after all, the company lifted the veil on what was anticipated to be a cell phone with Google's logo on it. Instead, it's a software platform, which should not have been a surprise from a company that's in the business of making software platforms. What's more, it's an open source Linux kernel for cross-branded third-party apps...that omits the Google brand.

"Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices," stated Google's director of mobile platforms, Andy Rubin, in a blog post this morning. "It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications - all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation."

A group of 34 companies, Google among them, is joining to form the Open Handset Alliance. Among them are manufacturers such as Motorola and HTC, carriers such as Sprint and T-Mobile, technology suppliers such as Marvell and Qualcomm, and mobile applications providers such as Packet Video and SONiVOX.

An "early look" at the future Android SDK is being planned for November 12. A placeholder message on the OHA's download page currently reads, "We view Android as a "living" platform and look forward to working with the developer community to continuously enhance and enrich the platform."

Until then, there is one clear contradiction in today's set of announcements: Android is being described as a complete "software stack," including applications layered on top of an interface protocol, middleware, and Linux kernel, in that order. But with the SDK apparently in an embryonic state, Android is very likely far from complete.

"The Gphone is really this great moniker that the press has put onto Android," states Erick Tseng, a Google product manager identified in an OHA video as its Product Manager. In a series of successive cuts, an OHA engineer states, "But this is the Gphone," followed in three seconds by, "Okay, this is not the Gphone."

OHA Engineering Director Steve Horowitz is seen later in the video saying, "There is no such thing as a single Gphone...What we're doing is enabling an entire industry to create thousands of Gphones."

Kind of, because that won't be what they're called. And for now, at least, we won't know what such devices will contain.

For more: Google's Phone Platform: It's Not an OS, So What Is It?


Charter members of the Open Handset Alliance, including one dog, discuss how the nucleus of the Open Handset Alliance came together, apparently over dinner.

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