Is Google the Elephant in the Room?

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Here's some interesting news:

Further uniting the Internet with mobile phones and computers, Intel Corporation and Nokia today announced a long-term relationship to develop a new class of Intel Architecture-based mobile computing device and chipset architectures which will combine the performance of powerful computers with high-bandwidth mobile broadband communications and ubiquitous Internet connectivity.

To realize this shared vision, both companies are expanding their longstanding relationship to define a new mobile platform beyond today's smartphones, notebooks and netbooks, enabling the development of a variety of innovative hardware, software and mobile Internet services.

Taking advantage of each company's expertise as leaders in their respective fields, these future standards-based devices will marry the best features and capabilities of the computing and communications worlds and will transform the user experience, bringing incredible mobile applications and always on, always connected wireless Internet access in a user-friendly pocketable form factor.

Many open source projects are affected by the move:

The companies are coordinating their Open Source technology selection and development investments, including alignment on a range of key Open Source technologies for Mobile Computing such as: oFono, ConnMan, Mozilla, X.Org, BlueZ, D-BUS, Tracker, GStreamer, PulseAudio. Collectively, these technologies will provide an open source standards-based means to deliver a wealth of mobile Internet and communication experiences, with rich graphics and multimedia capabilities.

Well, that's certainly true: the support of both Intel and Nokia for these will raise their profile yet further. But I can't believe that a desire to promote free software code was really the engine behind this deal: so what was?

Obviously, both have much to bring to the world of mobile platforms, and the blurring between smartphones, notebooks and netbooks is something that I've written about before.

But I wonder whether the move is defensive, since another player that is similarly working across all those markets is Google, with its Android platform. Could it be that Intel and Nokia are worried about the irruption of this giant into their space, and have decided to team up the better to repel the invader?

There's an interesting discussion thread on the subject:

We (Intel) have been working on a number of testing targets while we figure out what to do with Android for Intel hardware and we would like to get this work into the upstream project now that part of our team is focusing on the new plans.

That can be read in many ways: that Intel was try to suss out the Android platform for future devices, or just to understand a potential threat better. Indeed, maybe this is partly the fruit of that work:

Handheld devices running Moblin 2.0 will be able to access Google's Android Market, potentially making the Intel operating system as appealing as Android for mobile carriers paid to host application downloads on their networks.

It's not clear to me what Intel really thinks about Android, nor what this new partnership with Intel is trying to do. But one thing is for sure: open source benefits, whatever happens.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.

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