Google's release of the Android SDK yesterday has raised the bar on mobile device environments. Open source, with support for touch screen devices, 3D acceleration hardware, and a variety of form factors, it's technically pretty dazzling. At least for geeks. Perhaps the G-Phone is really the Geek Phone. Judge for yourself. Search Android SDK on Youtube, and check out some of the pretty videos. We geeks are attracted to shiny new objects, and this one is definitely a pretty bauble.
In Google's vision of the future, anyone can build an iPhone. Oh yes, their vision is artfully couched in terms of their universal access mantra — that "Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and relevant." However, as Google's Andy Rubin said to CNet:
…it's getting easier and easier for people to build cell phones. In 2009, there will be single-chip cell phones, so you can go to Qualcomm and get basically a cell phone and a chip, or to Broadcom or one of the other alliance partners.
Pretty much anybody now can build a cell phone right, and I mean anybody. The big lesson I learned coming out of Danger is, let's figure out a way to take advantage of that and provide a solution for the hardest part, which is the ever-changing software component.
With this audacious step, Google begins its attempted transformation from web powerhouse to platform powerhouse, not via the rumoured Google PC of last year, but via the most ubiquitous electronic device on the planet — the humble phone.
Distribution is the toughest part of this strategy. In partnering with Motorola, Google may have an answer. The once dominant Motorola is eager to return to its glory days, and software is its achilles heel. A Silicon Valley driven tornado of innovation may be just what the doctor ordered.
No doubt folks at Microsoft, RIM, Apple, and Nokia are all watching this development closely. Microsoft and RIM customers will stay true unless Google can duplicate the email experience that these users depend upon. Apple customers' loyalty is legendary. It's Nokia, by far the dominant player in the smartphone market but with the least sophisticated following, that is most at risk.