back to article Google's Android - big name, big question on payment

If you're a Trekkie it may have already occurred to you that Google is a little like the Borg. The company, it seems, is determined to assimilate all information-, advertising- and search-based services in its path. And now, mobile has fallen under the company’s rapacious gaze. In the second part of my three-part overview …

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Will there be any devices?

I can't see Android doing well unless and until the big three get seriously involved. Nokia and Sony Ericcson are out and Motorola haven't exactly signed up to put Android on the next RAZR.

For this to get momentum, there need to be a range of *consumer* devices in the market, as opposed to niche geek products weighting in at 200g plus.

There also needs to be infrastructural support, which doesn't seem to be being addressed. Google don't seem to be engaging with the telcos to get data plans that will make this work, or offering an easy to use way of delivering trusted apps to the device.

Google's model in Gmail and Maps has been to "buy the business" by taking a bigger hit on delivery costs that any competitor is prepared to. If they want to do this in mobiles they will need to be subsidising the handsets, subsidising the bandwidth and generally hauling Android over the mountains between it and significant market share.

Until then, I'd say that any business model for an Android app would involve winning the $275k and going off to do something else.

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Platform problems...

The android platform is somewhere between the single program, no os smartphones and the full blown desktop (windows) environment. This is the same place where windows mobile lives. The only difference is that the android platform is based on linux and google's vm. The platform is as open as its windows variant, because you can't get 100 percent of the source code, but you can get the apis. You can write a new dialer for windows mobile or andoid, but you can't make a fully open source system. This takes out hardware developers who are looking for a free platform, since you have to pay to get it ported to your hardware in both cases. (you can't do it yourself without having the source code)

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@auser

True. And I wouldn't be surprised if the first version of Android uses a HAL/reference platform compatible with Windows Mobile.

That way, HTC and the like will just be able to create an alternate boot image for their devices that runs Android.

But like I say, handsets that are as complex as WM devices will be a niche market for a while yet.

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Open _Handset_ Alliance

You referred to the Open Mobile Alliance when in fact you meant the Open Handset Alliance. Two quite different groups.

You have however inadvertently pointed out one of the weak points of Android. It does not seem to have any current support for many of the standardized applications of the OMA.

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