It’s not often that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) launch a new software development kit with a $10 million prize for developers and a video explanation / press release from one of it’s founders. Yet that is exactly what has happened today with Android’s offical SDK release.
Before you read on, you should probably watch Sergey Brin’s YouTube video.
There has been a lot of fanfare with this latest announcement, but it’s easy to see why; the stakes are huge. By 2010, just over 1 billion people will have access to a computer, but around 4 billion will have access to a mobile phone, with over 1 million new subscribers every day! Google know that the potential for advertising to this vast market is enormous. They already lead the way with their contextual and search based adverts, but with mobile they will be able to target them to location as well.
Now I must admit that I’ve not been particularly enthusiastic about Internet on mobile phones until this year. Previously devices were clumsy to use, access speeds were slow, data transfer was expensive, and sites optimised for the small screen were few and far between.
However fast forward to now and we have flat rate data packages, phones that can cope with complex websites as easily as your desktop browser can and pioneering new interfaces such as the Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) multi-touch technology. The prospects for the Mobile Internet are looking up.
And this is great news for Linux. I think Android will do for Linux on mobile phones what Ubuntu has done for Linux on the desktop. If Google’s powerful brand can help get handset makers to write drivers for their hardware then the community as a whole will benefit.
The scope for software developers is enormous. By the end of next year, most handsets will have built in GPS and Android developers will therefore be able to craft a wide range of innovative location based applications. Think free sat-nav and local business enquiries via Google maps!
So, have Google missed out by not launching a single “gPhone”, and focusing on a software platform instead? In my mind, not at all. Linux’s growth is due to its open source nature and the fact that it can run on an enormous range of hardware, and I think Android will benefit from the same.
If Android will run on a mobile phone, then why not run it on a PC as well? Say hello to Google OS.