It's Almost Android Time

Carl Weinschenk

The Mobile World Congress held this week in Barcelona is the first of what undoubtedly will be many coming-out parties for Android. The Google-led open source software project is aimed at the creation of a generation of mobile devices made by, and using applications written by, a host of companies in the Open Handset Alliance.


The world undoubtedly is becoming more mobilized, and this BusinessWeek piece sees Android as one front in a burgeoning war between Google and Nokia. The piece only mentions Android a couple of times, and naturally positions it as a Google foray into Nokia territory. The writer points out that Nokia has introduced handsets that more closely link with global positioning systems (GPS), which is a shot at Google Maps. Nokia's new top model, the N96, uploads geotagged videos to a Nokia site that the story says looks "suspiciously like Google's YouTube."


Perhaps the most intriguing part of the Android program is the idea that companies will be able to write an application once and have it run on any number of devices. This InfoWorld commentary suggests that that the promise should be taken with a grain of salt. The bottom line is that companies really want to stand apart, and it is hard to do that and simultaneously interoperate. In addition, the writer says, incremental features make it increasingly hard to truly interoperate. This is particularly true because some of the features -- such as those related to security -- burrow deep into the underpinnings of the device.


The reality is that the only way to come close to true interoperability is a through a tough certification program. The writer says that Microsoft and Palm didn't succeed in this area and there is no reason to think that Google will.


EE Times detailed more Android-related goings on in Spain. The piece begins on a bit of a sour note, saying that showings by ARM, Qualcomm and TI left few impressed. For instance, the piece said that the ARM demonstration featured two-generation-old technology. The piece balances the disappointment by recognizing that the products on display only were prototypes. Indeed, they were able to perform full Web browsing and other multimedia applications. The story does a good job of describing the rationale underpinning the Android initiative.


Besides a pretty funny back and forth in the comments section, this Wired piece is worth a look to see good photographs of early Android design boards. Essentially, a tremendous amount of R & D goes on before a lot of money is spent integrating features and functionality into far fewer chips for use in the small handsets that will be sold. Engineers will be very interested in the shots -- and a short video -- that feature NEC, Qualcomm and perhaps other development boards.

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