The Illusive Gphone

So the illusive Gphone is finally announced, but not as a phone but an alliance.

One should note it coincides very nicely with last months announcement of Firefox Mobile becoming a priority. Firefox has a nice share of the Linux browser market. Extending it to mobile seems somewhat natural. A real win for developers. The same browser on all major PC platforms, and many mobile devices (on multiple carriers by different manufacturers) creates one of the largest platforms on the planet for a high level language like JavaScript. It also means it will be easier to port existing web applications to mobile devices knowing the browser is of the same lineage and honors true standards. It’s also nice to know that other mobile browsers like Safari on the iPhone are also very standards friendly.

Obviously absent on the list of members in the alliance is Verizon, AT&T, and Apple. I’d be curious to know what Apple is thinking. Could this be another Mac vs. PC? Or will Apple “Think Different” this time when faced with a pending platform war? I know what I would do. I’d start hacking up a Wine-like API for running Linux applications on Mac OS X. Since Linux doesn’t need to be reverse engineered like Windows, development should be much easier. Mac OS X having strong UNIX roots would also likely be helpful. At the end of the day, you would then be able to run Android applications on top of the thin(ish) compatibility layer. Casual users wouldn’t know any better. I guess in a sense Apple has started down this road. There is X11 for Mac OS X. They can of course keep it all under the radar for a while, just like Mac OS X for x86 until they need to play that card.

Om Malik makes an interesting point:

  • Google (GOOG) says it’s open source, letting you download it and do whatever — except that carriers can create their own locked-down versions of the software with Android. That doesn’t seem very open to me.

It does make me wonder if Google is doing the heavy lifting and carriers will just fork it when done and ship a closed version of the software and take advantage of not needing to pay licensing.

Very interesting stuff, but still doesn’t answer my question regarding bandwidth becoming fast enough, and affordable enough to hit critical mass. It still seems that mobile data services are just too expensive for many people to justify. Will this encourage enough competition in the mobile space to drive prices down? Or is there going to be some incentives to offer lower priced data services?

One thought on “The Illusive Gphone

  1. It does make me wonder if Google is doing the heavy lifting and carriers will just fork it when done and ship a closed version of the software and take advantage of not needing to pay licensing.

    Well, we’re in the same boat with Mozilla. A couple of downstream vendors (Netscape and Joost) have been closed source, but for the most part licensees have remained open (Songbird, Flock, AllPeers, etc). There’s value in the “Open” brand, just like there’s value in the “Apple” brand. I’m hoping there’s enough consumer pressure for carriers to allow open Android devices on their network like they allow open Windows, Palm, Symbian and RIM devices.

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