Unless you've been down a mine all week, you'll have seen that Google, one of our investors, announced a new mobile software platform this week. It's called Android and the announcement also revealed the creation of the Open Handset Alliance.
Since we at dotMobi also constitute a mobile consortium of sorts, we thought it would be worthwhile talking about it a little. Certainly there are many facets to making the mobile web experience the success it deserves to be, and so the OHA is very welcome to the party.
The most amazing thing about this announcement was that a 34-company deal was kept so secret. But to be honest, after months of speculation, the rest wasn’t as surprising. The project has even kept the Android name, that of company that Google acquired back in 2005 to start the project.
To dotMobi followers, the big question is how well Android will help the growth and acceptance of the mobile web. Certainly it is set, like the iPhone, to increase the industry buzz and interest around the making the internet a truly mobile medium.
It will be important to see how it will be welcomed by the developers and owners of content, and of course, whether it is set to be a platform that also hits mainstream consumer consciousness, as the iPhone has done.
Whilst OHA plays the "Open" card very strongly, the addition of any new platform into the mobile space creates waves of new diversity, which are not necessarily a good thing in the short term. Nothing becomes de-facto overnight.
Of course, in the longer term, if Android becomes a dominant platform, then diversity diminishes and user experience will increase. (Think of the operating system homogeneity in the PC world, and the relative ease that brings to developers). But that would have to come at the expense of other, dominant market players - many of whom are notably absent from the OHA, and to be fair already have fairly open platforms of their own.
While Google has been able to position itself as a leader in the Internet space – despite what many originally thought was coming to that party a bit too late – there's too much at stake in the mobile world for ubiquity and uniformity to happen overnight, or even smoothly. This dynamic of device diversity is a very particular curse for the mobile space. And, incidentally, why we've been working so hard on mitigating it with our device database initiatives.
So the announcement was interesting and positive. We await further progress with great excitement.