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10/29/2008
01:05 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Google's Android Army Gathers More Soldiers

HTC had better look out. Motorola also has chosen Android to be its savior. But these are not the only companies looking at the open mobile platform from Google. OpenMoko, maker of the Linux-based FreeRunner, also is eying Android, as is Asus (yes, the maker of PCs). Can Android take over the mobile world?

HTC had better look out. Motorola also has chosen Android to be its savior. But these are not the only companies looking at the open mobile platform from Google. OpenMoko, maker of the Linux-based FreeRunner, also is eying Android, as is Asus (yes, the maker of PCs). Can Android take over the mobile world?HTC beat everyone to market with an Android phone. The G1, love it or hate is, has had its moment in the sun. We have to assume that the G1 isn't the only Android-powered handset to come from HTC. I firmly believe it has more hardware in the works.

On the heels of the G1's arrival, Motorola has shifted the strategy of the entire mobile phone business to try to recapture its glory days. Reports suggested that Motorola is working on a social-networking-focused Android device that will be available next year. Not only that, but Motorola will use Android for the bulk of its feature phones. Motorola is showing a lot of faith in Android.

Last week, Hop-on, a maker of low-cost phones and devices for the senior market, declared that it is working on an Android handset.

Just this morning, it also came to light that OpenMoko and partner Koolu are working on an Android-powered handset of their own. OpenMoko, you'll remember, released the Neo1973 and FreeRunner, both of which run mobile Linux platforms. The Android Guys report, "Not only is OpenMoko doing some Android prep, but another company called Koolu is working on their own project which incorporates the handset. Reading through their site, it looks like they are expecting to start offering an Android device using OpenMoko's design as early as November. They also mention a free Beta port of Android for existing FreeRunner customers." I am sure there are a few FreeRunner owners out there who might be excited by that.

Lastly, the DigiTimes is reporting that Asus is planning to launch an Android-based handset. DigiTime's sources indicate that the phone will street sometime in the first half of 2009. No specs of the phone are available, and Asus hasn't made any official announcements.

The appeal of Android is real. That Android is free makes the appeal only stronger. Handset OEMs can download the entire platform -- from soup to nuts -- at no cost. That saves immense time in developing and fostering a mobile platform on their own. It will speed devices and hardware to market, and offers the potential of the Android Market and the nearly unlimited possibilities of running applications and Web-based services.

With five hardware manufacturers already on board, I see Android recruiting more and more followers. The only question is, just how strong will this army become, and can it overrun the incumbent competition's stalwart defenses?

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