Google Android: bringing smartphone technology to the masses

Google Android's Start Screen
Image courtesty of Idoctor
Google Android's Main Menu
Image courtesty of Idoctor

When it comes to smartphones, there is quite a difference between Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone, even though they both aim to bring internet experience to the mobile masses. For starters, Android doesn’t come with its own mobile device, as the iPhone does, instead it (supposedly) works on a variety of handsets, including Motorola, Samsung, HTC and LG. The only requirement is that the phones must have a 200MHz ARM 9 processor.

Another difference between them is that Android is a collaboration between 34 companies that have all joined the Open Handset Alliance, which is intended to develop applications on Android’s platform using open-source technology. Andy Rubin, director of Google mobile platforms, says that the platform will be flexible and compatible with small or large screens, as well as compatible with keyboards and other methods of data input.

It’s expected that Android smartphones will be available from around the middle of September, with T-Mobile being the first company to launch an Android handset. According to Qualcomm, one of the members of the Open Handset Alliance, the aim of the open-source philosophy is to make smartphone technology available to the average Joe, in other words, those who can’t afford the iPhone. Paul Jacobs, chief executive of Qualcomm, says that they intend to make smartphones available to the mass market for less than $200. They’re still some way from this ideal price tag, however, as T-Mobile’s is expected to retail for $399, or $150 for a subsidised phone and a two-year contract.

Capturing the mobile market isn’t going to be that easy for Google. Android is new in a market where other companies have already established themselves; companies such as Apple, Nokia and Sony Ericson. But if Google is one thing it’s tenacious. It’s also used to being the first choice among users, and won’t like being relegated to second, third or even fourth best. It will work hard to deliver customer satisfaction by way of user-friendly interfaces, as well as useful and entertaining applications that meet a wide range of business and private needs.

Other companies may have a head start, but you can be sure that Google will go the extra mile to make the gap negligible within a relatively short period of time.

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