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Android - Lost in space?

Posted by terrencebarr on July 10, 2008 at 5:56 AM PDT

On my various trips and presentations around the world I often get asked to comment on Google's Android effort. I've blogged about Android before and mostly what I said then still holds true now.

But a couple of things I think have become more apparent since then - in particular that Google seems to have approached the matter with a certain amount of naiveté. We still don't actually know very much about Android. The software stack is late and still being reworked in fundamental ways. Devices are delayed. Partners are not signing on in droves. The business model is unclear. The open source and developer communities are largely still in the dark about the plans. All the while the rest of the industry is not standing still: Google finds itself playing catch-up in mobile-phone code race.

I still applaud Google for the effort - the mobile industry is in the midst of a major shift and Android is an embodiment of that shift. But like Microsoft and many other dominant players before, Google is finding out that the rules you've learned in rising to the top of your particular game don't necessarily apply to that shiny new business you've set your sights on. The lessons we've come to appreciate in the desktop space mostly don't work in the mobile industry - for technical and business reasons.

But there is one critical similarity between the desktop and the mobile space. True growth and market opportunities require economies of scale. Economies of scale require ubiquity of consistent platforms and open access. The desktop space finally reached the point of lift-off with the standardization on the X86 hardware platform coupled with the emergence of a small set of operating systems that provided a consistent and (fairly) open programming model (Windows and GNU/Linux). And a big open pipe to the Internet turned on the afterburner.

The mobile space is still struggling on all of these fronts. And whether Google's approach is actually helping the matter is a an excellent point of discussion. Curious to hear your thoughts.

Cheers,

-- Terrence

Comments

The information out on Android is confusing and spread out which is why I setup a blog to consolidate all the information and latest Android news at www.googleandblog.com Now into the mix is Symbian which has evolved past just a mobile OS to a complete software stack that will be offered royalty free to phone makers - in direct competition with Android.

Alright, but isn't SavaJe OS (aka "JavaFX Mobile") also "lost in space" ? Where is SavaJe offer at Sun ? Nobody to contact, nobody to detail the offer ... even though it has been bought and "lauched" since months. Why sun is not opensourcing the SavaJe code (the one they own), if this is not something they plan to make direct money with ? IMHO, istead of debating wether Android is "good or bad" (with its "java but not java compatible" approach), why not spread SavaJE into the real world and let developper and manufacturer choose ? Vive SavaJe Libre !

Typo above: "story" instead of "store".

bjb,

The store around FX Mobile has been updated because the market requirement have shifted. I tried to explain that a few days ago in this thread (http://forums.java.net/jive/thread.jspa?threadID=43542&tstart=0) - please check there. Basically, the market has confirmed that the priorities shouldn't be to create brand-new stacks but to evolve the broad technology base already out there.
-- Terrence