Picture it like a coalition of regional parties and socialist groups ganged up to upstage a powerful ruling government.
Internet search engine giant Google Inc announced on Monday a much-anticipated and secretively executed grouping called the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) that aims to change the global game in mobile telephony, pitting a motley mix of influential technology satraps it leads against entrenched giants that include Microsoft, Nokia and Vodafone.
At the heart of Google’s strategy is a three-pronged software stack that addresses a core concern that keeps costs high: patented designs and high software costs. The aim is to dramatically increase rich smartphone features based on Internet connectivity in a shrinking world.
There are only 1.5 billion personal computers in the world, but twice as many cellphones. With mobile Internet taking off, it gives software firms and industry laggards an opportunity to beat or catch up with current giants.
The OHA groups 34 members that include microchip-makers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), telephone service operators, software companies and commercial partners. The alliance bands names like video chip-makers Broadcom and Intel, handset makers Samsung and Motorola, service providers like NTT Docomo and China Mobile and Net auction portal eBay.
By developing a mobile platform called Android based on the free, open-source Linux operating system and then opening up the system for developers worldwide to build applications based on it, Google has readied the world for an explosion of applications based on varying ideas to serve diverse needs.
The alliance is expected to result in the creation of cost-effective, flexible mixes of handsets, services and software applications that drive interactive activities like trading and content like music and video downloads.
“The alliance is a living thing,” Andy Rubin, director of Google’s mobile programme, told a conference call with Indian journalists. “Everything we create will be made public.”
Bharti Airtel was expected to be in the early list of partners but is not yet there. Rubin said “every member must have something viable to contribute” for the core but any service provider can join later.
The open-source movement allows free software to be modified as long as the details of the change are shared publicly. Google will unveil within a week a set of software hooks that will help thousands of developers.
Rubin said he could not disclose if Bharti was in talks with Google. Bharti is already a strategic partner for Google in mobile search. Google will likely make money from the new alliance from mobile search-based ads.