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Thursday, 8 November 2007

The Promise of Android

Google has finally made their long awaited mobile announcement and its not a phone but a phone platform and an industry group that will contribute to and leverage that platform. When I first read this my take was very similar to Techdirt's; thats it?

I was expecting more. Not so much the gPhone itself, but something more revolutionary. Instead all I got was yet another platform choice for OEMs and operators. These guys already have lots of choices and these choices aren't exactly driving users to move beyond voice and text in droves. While the Google stuff is "open", its in the same way that Windows Mobile and Symbian are open, but at a much lower cost.

So my initial conclusion was that this is just another mobile phone platform and doesn't really change anything, particularly for Mippin. In my mind the issue that needs addressing is that mobile application developers can't connect with consumers to really understand what people want. The barriers to entry are very high and usually involve distribution through operators or the OEMs or both.

Google is filled with smart people who realize this problem. I think Android and the Open Handset Alliance is just the first step in a long journey. Google has entered the mobile ring and has done so in a way that acknowledges the role of the industry incumbents. They will build on this to help drive the entire industry to become more open by reducing the friction between the people who build innovative services and the adopters of those services. At least I hope that's the way it plays out. Hopefully we'll all get a bit more insight next week when the Android SDK is revealed.

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