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Google Phone OS - Meet Android

The rumours of a Google phone or gPhone have been making the rounds for a while now and this past Monday we finally got to find out that Google’s initiative was in fact not hardware but software related with the announcement of the Android mobile OS platform and the Open Handset Alliance (OHA).

The Open Handset Alliance currently comprises a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies (including handset manufacturers such as HTC and Motorola as well as leading mobile operators such as Sprint and T-Mobile) who have come together to “accelerate innovation in mobile and offer consumers a richer, less expensive, and better mobile experience”.  Together these companies have developed Android –  the first complete, open, and free mobile platform.

Google gPhone Android

Considering that Palm’s own future Palm Linux OS has been interminably delayed (new Treo and Centro smartphones with this OS are not expected until early 2009 now) a few people have suggested that Palm should jump at the opportunity to develop its own line of smartphones powered by Android.  Palm’s official response (via Engadget) was to say that:

"Palm has always been committed to open platforms for developers. And Palm has the added differentiation of being able to tightly integrate the software platform with our hardware design, which we believe gives us an advantage in delivering a great user experience.

Palm customers have benefited from the availability of Google services on Palm's platform, such as Google Maps for mobile on Palm OS. And we look forward to further collaboration with Google to offer great user experiences on Palm products."

It’s obvious that with many years of development and hundreds of $millions invested, Palm is not about to drop its own Linux OS in favour of an as yet unproven and untested operating system.  Additionally, although appealing to me since I’d like to see a next generation Treo smartphone released ASAP, the option for Palm to develop yet another line of Android smartphones alongside existing PalmOS/LinuxOS and Windows Mobile devices also appears impractical (at least for now).

Even if the Open Handset Alliance’s Android platform is able to deliver a truly amazing mobile operating system the fact is nonetheless that it will still be entirely dependent on leading handset manufacturers to develop a hardware design that is equally appealing and successful in the market as most consumers ultimately care more about what the device looks like than what software it’s running.  At this point only HTC have confirmed plans to release an Android powered handset by mid-2008.

Overall, although Android undoubtedly provides some exciting news for many mobile developers (an SDK will be available for download on November 12, 2007) there is unfortunately still very little if anything to actually “see” as OHA have not released any screenshots of their proposed OS nor other graphical details of its possible functionality.  Handset manufacturers have also yet to release an image of a proposed device. 

Until we receive more information and get to see what Android actually looks like I can only say that it’s a great startup idea that now needs to prove itself…

Treonauts are always ready for the future

Posted by Andrew on November 8, 2007 at 02:01 PM
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by moofie | Nov 8, 2007 4:15:23 PM

Funny, I'd say that Palm's comedy of errors over the last, what? Five years since the Handspring acquisition? make Palm the one that needs to prove itself.

by Jim | Nov 8, 2007 10:34:47 PM

I had plenty to say about the lame Android announcement, but apparently this site thought it was spam. All I can say is get your act together Palm. I love my Treo, but if you don't develop an updated phone to replace the outdated ones you are putting out now, Apple and all the rest of them are going to pass you by.

by jack | Nov 8, 2007 11:31:27 PM

It sounds very interesting. I find it a little odd that one would publish an open standard without mention of things like an RFC that documents what that standard is. I realize that RFCs are for the most part an internet thing and this is a phone thing, but my basic question is this: What do people develop too? You can download an SDK, but how does one know they are writing non-standard or non-compliant apps? This is the first I've even heard of this effort ... I'm surprised it isn't more visible in the trade rags

by Cripple | Nov 9, 2007 1:00:19 AM

The question that has to be asked is - Is Android a competitor to PalmOS or WM? I don't think Android will be a "SmartPhone", it will have smart phone functions, but at best, it'll be like a MultiMedia Symbian phone. Google will cater for the lowest common denominator so that they can get as many people to look at their Ads. Means simple, easy-to-use, cheap Mobile Phone.

by marc | Nov 9, 2007 4:02:45 PM

android was already a start-up company when it was acquired by google in august of 2005. android was founded by andy rubin who previously founded danger (they made the sidekick). i think they might know at least as much about mobile devices as palm and i agree that palm has at least as much to prove as the developers at android do and maybe more.

ps. the android sdk is being released on nov 12th.

by Michael | Nov 12, 2007 5:53:56 AM

I'm a enthusiastic Palm user since U.S. Robotics PalmPilot 1000 and am really convinced of the Treo 650 I'm using since two years.

Following all the rumors about possibly and briefly to be released, new devices I think it's time to have an objective view on the facts and their most-likely impact on smartphone market:

Palmsource incl. PalmOS Garnet was sold to Access and is still being improved, an unlimited License for PalmOS 5.x was bought back by Palm for a certain amount of dollars to ship with the current models like Treo 680,7xxp,Centro,500 etc.

But Palm is developing a new, Linux-based (and probably 12-month delayed) OS and Access is working on the Access Linux Platform (ALP - and has already a working Alpha-Release).

But that's not all yet:
Android with its strong alliance members is about to roll-up the market and there are further organizations working on mobile plattforms like e.g. Trolltech Qtopia and Embedded Linux as well.

The only answer to who's gonna survive this battle of OS may be: The company, that'll be first to place a fully functionally product on the most important markets in North America, Europe and Asia. And it doesn't look like Palm will be the first to release a really new OS- and HW platform.

Sad but true, but it seems as if Palm jumped on the wrong train and made a couple of additional mistakes like Foleo etc instead of taking chances by cooperating within a powerful alliance, e.g. one of those listed above.

Palm Inc. - down but not out yet ? I don't hope so. Let's wait and see.

by Jim | Nov 12, 2007 7:14:41 AM

Palm is down, the count is on, and they've got to pick their butts off the mat or the fight is over. I don't think they have until 2009.

I've carried a PalmPilot right through to the Treo 650 with a few Handsprings and Windows gizmos thrown in. I love my Palm. I love the speed, openness of the community, the apps that are out there... But this is starting to feel like Windows 98 in Vista world.

And why in the name of all that is holy, can't they put in Wifi?

by chris | Nov 13, 2007 3:04:22 AM

check out uTube for those screen shots... I LOVE my treo, but only because of the features that it offers. and they are dated to say the least, but they are still the best option we have. However, with what i have seen so far I am going to jump ship AS SOON as android is released. Honestly, how can palm compete?? its Google... they are awesome... all you have to do is look at gmail, google earth, google maps, and all of the other free applications that they give away. they are leading the way and this alliance shows that everyone is going to follow.

by DG | Nov 14, 2007 7:48:26 PM

PocketPC. Blackberry. iPhone. Now Google? This space is getting crowded.

I've been loyal to Palm since my first Palm IIIx over 8 years ago. Through Sony Clies and back to Treo 600, 650 and now 680, I'm holding out as long as I can because the Palm OS provides the most flexibility in terms of customizability, 3rd party app choice...

But, these other platforms are so much slicker. If they developed their 3rd party community to provide the choice I enjoy on the Palm OS, there'd be little reason to hang around.

PocketPC. Blackberry. Apple. Google. That's a lot of competition by the heaviest tech designers in the world.

Clearly, the writing is on the wall for Palm. Either decide to survive now or pack it in, because these sharks are getting into frenzy mode.

by Mauricio | Nov 15, 2007 3:16:43 AM

I was a Treo fan... I own an 680 (650 and 600 before) but I am tired of reseting it, waiting the thing to un-freeze when sending an SMS, waiting for every page on the browser and finally tired of charge the phone wherever I can... I really think palm is in the process of backward (not reverse) engineering: every new model is less ambitios than older!!

The virtual keypad of the iphone does not work for me, but I can´t wait to get my hands on a HTC with qwerty, loaded with Android and some of the apps that google´s 10 million bag will offer!

by David | Nov 15, 2007 9:42:31 AM

I agree completely. For some reason 680 is actually slower than 650 - even just moving the cursor around app icons or up/down in the calender. It might be a some trade-off for stability though - 680 crashes less for me.

Mobile Linux:
I hope some cross-platform APIs for all major linux mobiles comes along so that the programmers can easily compile their application for any linux phone.

It seems Google hardware designers has gotton some inspiration from Palm's new button setup:


That device in the jpg is actually in one of the videos about android. I wonder who developed it (prototype I guess).

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