Android is the first open source mobile application platform that has the potential to make significant inroads in many markets. When examining Android there are a number of technical and market-related dimensions to consider. This first section introduces the platform and provides context to help you better understand Android and where it fits in the global cell phone scene.
Android is the product of primarily Google, but more appropriately the Open Handset Alliance. Open Handset Alliance is an alliance of approximately 30 organizations committed to bringing a "better" and "open" mobile phone to market. A quote taken from its website says it best: "Android was built from the ground up with the explicit goal to be the first open, complete, and free platform created specifically for mobile devices." As discussed in this section, open is good, complete is good; "free" may turn out to be an ambitious goal. There are many examples of "free" in the computing market that are free from licensing, but there is a cost of ownership when taking support and hardware costs into account. And of course, "free" cell phones come tethered to two-year contracts, plus tax. No matter the way some of the details play out, the introduction of Android is a market-moving event, and Android is likely to prove an important player in the mobile software landscape.
With this background of who is behind Android and the basic ambition of the Open Handset Alliance, it is time to understand the platform itself and how it fits in the mobile marketplace.
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