Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Is the Gphone dead, or converted into an Android?

Technophiles alike gathered online yesterday at noon to receive word on the conference call put forth by Google and others about the upcoming, open source, mobile-device operating system, Android. Personally, I hung out on Engadget, refreshing their "live" feed from the conference call.

One thing that was made clear during the conference call is that there was no Gphone in development. It had been rumored for months that Google was developing a phone to compete with Apple's iPhone. The average speculation was that the hardware would be built by a third-party, the software would be developed by Google and comprise of their many online applications, and that the service would be ad-based resulting in a low cost or an all together free device.

Well, now that the Gphone rumor has been squashed, what will this Android do for you? Android is the operating system and bundle of software that Google has been developing for mobile devices. It is linux-based and open source. Most open source software is protected by the GNU General Public License (GPL). The purpose of this license is to keep any free software free. To clarify, a common phrase in open source is "free as in speech, not as in beer." Free software's code is available to anyone and allows them alter it and redistribute it in any manner they wish, which includes selling it even if the originating code was acquired for free (as in beer). The catch is that you must allow the same rights which you were given, meaning the next person has free (as in speech) access to your code and can distribute it.

I am among the camp that believes this open handset concept will bring great change to the mobile device arena. For an idea of the kind of applications and gadgets that Android will bring to handsets, take a look at: Gmail, Google Maps, Google Documents, YouTube, and iGoogle, as they will all most likely be a part of the software bundle. Then, on top of that add Open Social and it's ability to interface with most social networks, and the possibility of Google winning the 700MHz spectrum auction, and you've got a powerful combination. All of this will be available to any freelance application developer, cellphone manufacturers, and cellphone service providers.

Oh, and Google claims that Android will not be ad-based.

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