Google delves into wireless

After months of rumors, Google announced today that it was going to enter the wireless telephone business ' not by developing a proprietary wireless handset but by focusing on developing software, dubbed 'Android,' that the phones will use.

'We are not building a G-phone,' said Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms. 'We are enabling 1,000 people to build a G-phone.'
In addition, an announcement by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) ' a Google-led organization representing 34 companies ' promised that the new mobile platform will consist of open-source code that can be freely licensed by developers.

'Handset manufacturers and wireless operators will be free to customize Android in order to bring to market innovative new products faster and at a much lower cost,' the alliance said in a news release. 'Developers will have complete access to handset capabilities and tools that will enable them to build more compelling and user-friendly services, bringing the Internet developer model to the mobile space. And consumers worldwide will have access to less-expensive mobile devices that feature more compelling services, rich Internet applications and easier-to-use interfaces.'

Consumers were advised to expect devices based on Android to reach the market in the second half of 2008. It is expected that devices will be manufactured by OHA members, including Motorola and Samsung, and that services will be provided by OHA members T-Mobile and Sprint.

Notably absent from OHA membership are AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which together account for an estimated 52 percent of the cell phone market.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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