I have been reading about the open handset alliance and collaborative work by 30+ companies using open standards for a new operating system for mobile phones. It caught my attention as I join the chorus and require a company or some entity to spark innovation and accelerate new apps for the phone decks. It’s almost here?
From a “Wireless Week” article, “today’s smartphones run on several different operating systems, most of which are based on proprietary technology even though they may be open to a certain extent to developers. On the opposite side of Android’s world has been Apple’s iPhone, which was completely closed until its recent introduction of a software developer’s kit (SDK).”
I cant believe its 2008 and as consumers, we are still relying on the carriers and their “slow to market” approach with developing new consumer friendly products. I completely understand and appreciate the tradeoffs with opening up a mobile platform. The economics become quite unfavorable to the carriers, not to mention the seemingly insurmountable risks of viruses and other “bad actors” with users ability to build new apps for a former “walled garden”. Not trivial but as we have seen from the past few years with the web, open standards and access for developers to build great products are required for truly great leaps in product. Carriers actually can become less indentured to OEM manufactures and may actually be able to innovate with Android? According to MediaPost’s SearchInsider, “80% of all U.S. mobile Web activity takes place on-deck (inside the carriers’ walled garden of content) whereas internationally 80% of activity occurs off-deck.”
It seems for the mobile platform to take off (video, community, location based apps, etc), we cant rely solely on developments from the carriers, but instead need to also harness some of the mojo from the likes of Facebook/Google/MySpace where users are interacting and building interesting new products. Combine that with some of the mojo from startups like Slide to build fun and zany new products for the mobile screen and the mojo from opening up platforms and allowing creative juices to flow (think of all that longitude/latitude data that is now available)!
The alliance for the open handset includes companies from the mobile operator industry (KDDISprint, T-mobile, etc), companies from the semi-conductor industry (Broadcom, Nvidia, Marvel, etc), handset manufactures which include the likes of (Samsung, LG, Motorola, etc) and from various software companies including (eBay, LiveWire, Google, SkyPop, etc).
Their efforts are to build out Android, a unified set of code built on an open platform (a la Linux Kernal). “Android™ will deliver a complete set of software for mobile devices: an operating system, middleware and key mobile applications. An early look at the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), is available.”
With Google promoting a $10m Android challenge (for new product dev) it is exciting to think about the possibilities. Combine this with T Mobile’s launch of the 3G network starting in NYC….things are about to get crazy! I wonder if there will be collaboration to buy spectrum and create a whole new network?
Finally, we all know what will really drive innovation and new product dev is the dollar. According to Juniper Research, “despite the incredible growth forecasted for mobile ad revenue — over $1 billion in 2008 and $7.6 billion in 2013 — it’s still a drop in the $500 billion global ad bucket.” But, its a chicken and the egg. Make the platform compelling and dollars will come.