The Open Handset Alliance

Google and 33 other companies announced the formation of the Open Handset Alliance on November 5, 2007. According to the joint press release from that day:

This alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on today's mobile platforms. By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers.

For us as mobile application developers, that means we are free to develop whatever creative mobile applications we can think of, free to market them (or give them, at our option) to Android mobile phone owners, and free to profit from that effort any way we can. Each member of the Open Handset Alliance has its own reasons for participating and contributing its intellectual property, and we are free to benefit.

The Open Handset Alliance integrates contributed software and other intellectual property from its member companies and makes it available to developers through the open source community. Software is licensed through the Apache V2 license, which you can see at http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.txt. Use of the Apache license is critical, because it allows handset manufacturers to take Android code, modify it as necessary, and then either keep it proprietary or release it back to the open source community, at their option. The original Alliance members include handset manufacturers (HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung), mobile operators (China Mobile Communications, KDDI, DoCoMo, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefonica), semiconductor companies (Audience, Broadcom, Intel, Marvell, NVidia Qualcomm, SiRF, Synaptics), software companies (Ascender, eBay, esmertec, Google, LivingImage, LiveWire, Nuance, Packet Video, SkyPop, SONiVOX), and commercialization companies (Aplix, Noser, TAT, Wind River). The Alliance includes the major partners needed to deliver a platform for mobile phone applications in all of the major geographies.

The Alliance releases software through Google's developer website (http://developer .android.com). The Android SDK for use by application software developers can be downloaded directly from that website. (The Android Platform Porting Kit for use by handset manufacturers who want to port the Android platform to a handset design is not covered in this book.)

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