All you need to know about Google's Android

For Android to succeed, Google will have to build a head of steam behind it, and get operators and application builders to accept it.

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HTC and Motorola, both members of OHA, will build phones for the Android platform. Forbes is reporting on an HTC-built OHA reference design code-named Dream featuring a touch screen that swivels to reveal a full keyboard. Apparently HTC is considering a commercial version of the phone and could release such a device as soon as the second half of 2008.

Will other carriers outside the OHA offer Android-based phones?

Don't hold your breath for carriers like Verizon and AT&T in the US, and Vodafone and Orange in the UK, to jump on the Android bandwagon. These carriers say they are worried that the open-software standards could expose users to software attacks or security breaches.

Beyond the security issues, wireless carriers have financial considerations, too. A cell phone that allowed customers to use any mobile Web application for free could threaten the revenue of carriers that charge customers for identical applications, such as access to e-mail, games, and GPS features.

How will Android phones differ from today's coolest smart phones?

Google says Android will have a browser capable of handling any type of Web content that a desktop computer's Web browser can handle. That design opens up a treasure trove of possible browser-based services already available to PC users, including contact management, document creation, GPS direction services, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services.

Many of these services could be implemented today but aren't, largely due to the fact that wireless carriers currently offer basic browsers that restrict users to a walled garden of services.

Why is a Google mobile platform any better than an existing mobile OS from Palm or Microsoft?

In theory, software developers will be inspired to create mobile applications for Android, for two reasons. First, an open software architecture will allow software developers more flexibility in creating features.

Second, Android will break the stranglehold that wireless carriers have on bringing new and free applications to customers. Now smaller companies will have more of an incentive to build innovative mobile applications that otherwise might not have reached consumers because the companies lacked the clout to broker deals with wireless carriers.

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