One of the potentially hottest and most important upcoming technologies posing a challenge to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile is Google’s Android operating system.Google, along with the “Open Handset Alliance,” announced in November the upcoming platform, and that many of the largest handset manufacturers and most important cellular service providers in the world are supporting it.
Although nowhere near as polished as the offerings from Sony Ericsson, Samsung and the rest, a number of Android prototypes and reference designs are on show here at the Mobile World Congress. Android is different from most existing smartphone platforms such as Windows Mobile and Palm OS because it’s “open source,” meaning the code is being made freely available to anyone interested in seeing it in a completely transparent way.
As a result, third party software developers and handset manufacturers have tremendous flexibility in writing add-on applications and creating enhancements to it. In some instances, users won’t even be able to distinguish between native and third party programs as a result.There is good reason to expect the platform to take marketshare. Besides being supported by the multi-hundred billion dollar powerhouse Google, the Open Handset Alliance includes multi-billion dollar powerhouses such as HTC, Motorola, LG and Samsung. In the United States, Sprint and T-Mobile will offer Android devices. An early look at the Android SDK was released in November, and Google announced $10 million in prizes for the best third party software applications developed for it.