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12/14/2009
04:04 PM
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What Next For Google In The Mobile Market?

Google has been known as a game changing company, a firm whose entry in a market often means immediate upheaval. Two years ago, the vendor unveiled its Android mobile operating system and convinced a bevy of suppliers to support the system. Now, Google plans to make its own handset, which may cause those companies to question their support.

Google has been known as a game changing company, a firm whose entry in a market often means immediate upheaval. Two years ago, the vendor unveiled its Android mobile operating system and convinced a bevy of suppliers to support the system. Now, Google plans to make its own handset, which may cause those companies to question their support.Upon announcing Android in November 2007, Google also formed the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium with about 50 hardware, software, and telecom companies buying into the concept of a need for a Linux based mobile operating system. Since then, the device has gained support from carriers, such as T-Mobile, and handset suppliers, such as Motorola. Now comes the news that Google plans to market its own cell phone. The details about the device and its marketing plans are sketchy, with observers guessing that it may a prepaid system or a phone sold directly to businesses. The device could emerge in 2010.

The move will continue to differentiate  for better or worse  Android from Apples iPhone, which has been the markets hottest seller. That device and its development environment have been tightly controlled. Google has allowed its partners to differentiate its system. Motorola sells it customized user interface as 'MotoBlur' while HTC markets its user interface as 'Sense". A Google phone could add further differentiation. The plus from such moves is that the more companies selling Android systems, the larger the potential installed base. However, third party vendors have to tailor their applications to a wide (and ever growing) range of devices, something they do not need to do with Apples iPhone.

So at least for the moment, Android remains an enigma to small and medium businesses. The mobile operating system has the potential to be integrated into items, such as Google Apps, and offer users a compelling experience. However, the handset is lagging behind the iPhone in market acceptance and support from third parties. And Googles latest movecould alienate its partners and weaken Android acceptance.

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