By Marguerite Reardon | Staff Writer, CNET News.com | Published: November 5, 2007, 8:13 AM PST
update | Google's cell phone strategy took shape Monday with the announcement of a new open software platform and an alliance of wireless heavyweights that will help form the development community for the planned phones.
Google has long been rumored to be working on software for cell phones that would integrate its applications. On Friday, CNET News.com reported that Google's plans went beyond simply developing software and instead included a whole consortium of companies working to develop an open platform cell phone application.
"Today's announcement is more ambitious than any single 'Google Phone' that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks," Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement. "Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models."
Google is officially unveiling Android, the new mobile phone software, during a press conference Monday morning. Thirty-four companies have said they will join the Open Handset Alliance, a multinational alliance that will work on developing applications on the Android platform. Members of the alliance include mobile handset makers HTC and Motorola, U.S. operator T-Mobile, and chipmaker Qualcomm.
The Android platform consists of an operating system, middleware, a user-friendly interface, and applications. Consumers should expect the first phones based on Android to be available in the second half of 2008, Google said in a press release.
The idea is that through the developer's alliance, handset makers and cell phone operators will be able to develop more user-friendly services and devices that help bring more of the Internet's functionality onto mobile devices. And because of this open model, the companies involved also hope that by scaling the development, advanced functionality will be able to hit the market for less expensive mobile devices that will have more compelling and rich Internet services with more user-friendly interfaces.