Monday, September 15, 2008

Google Android powered Mobile Phones

True to form Google is planning on offering a lot of value to mobile phone users.

Google is not manufacturing phones but instead making the software for them - called Android - and relying on a consortium of hardware partners to make handsets in an array of shapes and sizes.

In stark contrast to Apple's "one handset fits all" strategy with the iPhone, Google is hoping to mix Nokia's approach of "a handset to suit every style" with Microsoft's tactic of making the software, then winning market share by roping in many partner companies.

However, while Microsoft charges phone makers for its Windows Mobile software, Google's Android software will be free. Google says it just wants to create the ultimate internet-enabled mobile phone. The payoff for Google is obvious: more consumers of Google services, especially in large developing countries such as India and China, where many people have their first contact with the internet through their mobile phone.

"What's good for the web is good for Google," says Dan Morrill, a Google developer advocate in the US. "The more comfortable with using the web that users are, the more frequently they'll do a Google search.

"We needed it to exist ... we took a look at the mobile space and realised some of the things we wanted to do were not possible in the current landscape of the mobile industry."

What could Google not do? "It came down to permission," he says. "As a PC user, when you open your web browser, you don't have to ask your ISP's permission to change the homepage. When you want to install software, you don't have to go to your computer maker and ask permission."

Morrill is referring to the way telcos have controlled the settings on mobile phones to funnel users back into their WAP portals and the way companies such as Apple have full control over what software can be installed on an iPhone.

"We wanted to create a platform that was open from end to end," he says.

Given its history of free services, Google may also win market share quickly by providing premium services such as push email - where email is delivered to the phone instantly - and free, rather than levying a monthly or annual fee as do BlackBerry maker RIM and iPhone maker Apple. "I can't comment specifically," Morrill says, "but it is safe to say we are not going to radically change our business model of providing value to users, just because this is a mobile device."

Google's business model parallels that of the Network as many of the services offered by AreaGuides are easy to use and, at the same time, FREE.

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