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12/9/2008
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Open Handset Alliance Grows Stronger

The Google-led consortium has added 14 new members to help it spread Android, including Asus, Ericsson, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba, and Vodafone.

Google's plans to spread the open source Android operating system just got a boost as the Open Handset Alliance gained 14 new members this week, including the world's largest wireless operator, Vodafone.

Vodafone joins the likes of AsusTek, Ericsson, Softbank Mobile, Sony Ericsson, and Toshiba as new members that are committed to the commercial success of the Android platform. Other new members include AKM Semiconductor, ARM, Atheros Communications, Borqs, Garmin, Huawei Technologies, Omron Software, and Teleca AB.

"Joining the Open Handset Alliance today is a logical step in our mobile Internet journey," said Frank Rovekamp, Vodafone's chief marketing officer, in a statement. "Working with emerging terminal platforms for smartphones is critical for us to deliver unbeatable customer experiences and accelerate time to market for innovative products and services."

In November 2007, rumors swirled that Google was planning its own phone, but the search giant instead unveiled a mobile platform and the Open Handset Alliance was created to spread the open source Android. Since then, consumers have only been able to buy the T-Mobile G1, but users should expect more Android-powered devices to be rolled out soon.

In an effort to turn around its struggling handset division, Motorola announced it would place a strong emphasis on smartphones and the company has chosen Android as one of its main operating systems. The OS also has the backing of major handset makers like HTC, LG, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson.

"Sony Ericsson is excited to announce its membership of the Open Handset Alliance and confirm its intention to develop a handset based on the Android platform," said Rikko Sakaguchi, Sony Ericsson's head of creation and development, in a statement. "We believe Sony Ericsson can bring a wealth of experience in making consumer-focused multimedia handsets with new user experience to the Alliance drawing on the successes of the Walkman and Cyber-shot sub-brands."

The inclusion of Garmin is a positive sign that Android may be moving beyond just mobile phones, and the platform may find its way onto other Internet-connected devices like personal navigation devices, set-top boxes, TVs, and others.

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