[Loadstone] Open letter to Google, the Open Handset Alliance and Nokia

Rob Melchers rob at loadstone-gps.com
Fri Nov 16 11:09:07 GMT 2007

"A lot of new cell phones seem to have touch screens, completely useless to 
the blind. I'd like to think that google
would get this right but I seriously doubt it."

"Oh, and there will definitely be Android devices with touchscreens. Since 
the iPhone, everything has to have a touchscreen, we understand."

Why you should care about Google Android

09 Nov 2007 10:24

The search specialist's open-source mobile plaform has the telephony 
industry hot under the collar — but what will it mean for the average 
business user?

Is there such a thing as a Google phone, or "Gphone", yet?
No. Google has announced an industry group, the
Open Handset Alliance,
which promises to produce phones by the second half of next year — and 
promises, furthermore, that they will be exciting in ways that have yet to 
be announced.

The phones will use a free Linux operating system from Google subsidiary 
Android, which is producing a free software-development kit for phone 
makers and
application developers, released under the Apache v2 licence. A "first 
look" at the SDK will be released on 12 November.

Will there ever be a Gphone?
Google won't say, and the answer depends on the conditions handset makers 
and operators agree to. The world of phones is undergoing a branding 
crisis: operators
such as O2 and Vodafone want their name on the phones, and so do most 
handset manufacturers, such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson and now Apple.

If all goes according to plan, there will be lots of phones based on the 
Open Handset Alliance, running Google-based services. Handset maker HTC, 
wedded to Microsoft's Windows Mobile, has promised to deliver Android phones.

But however much people love Google, it's not clear whether they want a 
Google-branded phone.

What will Android phones do?
It is all speculation. Spokespeople have talked of "innovations we can't 
even envisage yet" — which translates as "we don't know".

We can say that they will have a good browser, one that people will 
actually want to use. There won't be any point launching the phones 
otherwise. They'll
support services that, like most projected "killer-apps" for mobile 
internet, will be location-based and identity-based. Essentially, Google's 
adverts beamed to you and relevant to where you are.

Oh, and there will definitely be Android devices with touchscreens. Since 
the iPhone, everything has to have a touchscreen, we understand.

Will the phones be open?
Again, this is not clear. The software will be open source, and will 
provide a platform (probably several, including Java and web browser) for 
to develop applications on.

But that does not require the handset maker or the operator to deliver an 
"unlocked" phone that lets the user choose applications (and possibly 
Operators may want to lock these phones into specific services, just as 
they do with phones such as the iPhone, and there's nothing to stop such 

So why is Google doing this then?
Advertising revenue. There are projections of billions of dollars of 
advertising revenue from the mobile internet. Google wants to hoover up as 
much of
that as it can, just as it already does with internet advertising accessed 
over fixed links. It already has some deals, for instance to put Google Maps
on Sony Ericsson phones, but it believes it could do a lot better if 
operators can be persuaded to let users out of their walled gardens.

What's in it for the operators?
In exchange for giving up their walled gardens, the operators get the 
promise of a cheaper handset platform, and one which will develop faster 
and have
more applications — if the Android ecosystem works as planned.

Has anyone put Linux on a mobile phone before?
Plenty of people have tried, and anyone wanting to sneer at Android's 
chances only has to point to the numbers of Linux phone alliances that have 
been tried

In fact, Linux phones are quite successful in the Far East, where they have 
a respectable market share in smartphones, and ship in volumes comparable to
that of Windows Mobile. Both those operating systems pale beside the market 
share of Symbian however, which provides an open platform, which anyone can
develop to, albeit one that the operators have to pay a licence fee for.

What's been the problem with mobile Linux?
It's been difficult to persuade the diverse Linux community to create the 
kind of single monolithic software that a phone needs, then to persuade 
to use it and developers to build to it, and finally users to buy it.

With 34 members, including significant operators (Telefonica O2 and 
T-Mobile, and KDDI and DoCoMo in Asia) Android is already doing far better 
than any
previous Linux phone effort.

Will Android phones be useful in business?
They'll be as useful as any other smartphone. Like all significant phone 
developments, and most web developments at present, Android is aimed 
squarely at
consumers. That's where there is money, and individuals with the freedom to 
spend it.

Businesses are too conservative to adopt Android quickly, and may well be 
scared of it initially if they perceive its openness as increasing the risk of

Will Android succeed?
Google announced the Android platform along with other members of the Open 
Handset Alliance, a group of 34 hardware and software companies plus wireless
carriers committed to creating open standards for mobile devices.

To succeed, it has to get a large market share, persuading operators to 
actually deliver handsets and significant numbers of users to adopt it. 
Google says
that three billion people have mobile phones, compared with the billion on 
the internet — but the majority of those phones are low-end feature phones that
won't be able to benefit from Android. Most of the users are on pre-pay 
rather than a contract, so they won't be able to benefit from the 
high-value, identity-related
services that might be offered on top of Android.

Another problem is that phone screens are smaller, so it may be physically 
difficult for Google to squeeze enough ads in without annoying the users.

Openness may count in its favour, but the success of the iPhone may well 
demonstrate that users generally don't care about openness, as long as there's
a convincing advertising campaign.
Story URL: 

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At 11/15/2007, you wrote:
>This is a good letter. I can only hope that someone from these cell phone
>companies reads it. From what I can tell it doesn't seem like any of them
>are giving any thought at all to accessable cell phones. If anything they
>seem to be making things worse, a lot of new cell phones seem to have touch
>screens, completely useless to the blind. I'd like to think that google
>would get this right but I seriously doubt it.
>On Thu, 15 Nov 2007, Per wrote:
> > I have written an open letter to Google, the Open Handset Alliance and also
> > to Nokia.
> > It's about the chance of the Open Source Android Operating System for blind
> > & visually impaired people from the poor countries and also about the great
> > LS project.
> > Do you have suggestions for more or better arguments?
> > You can answer me with private mail as well.
> >
> > http://de.mini.wikia.com/wiki/Open_letter_initiative
> >
> > Best regards from Per
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Loadstone mailing list
> > Loadstone at loadstone-gps.com
> > http://www.loadstone-gps.com/mailman/listinfo/loadstone
> >
>Loadstone mailing list
>Loadstone at loadstone-gps.com
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