Thursday, January 10, 2008

Video of a Google Android cell phone prototype

We have seen that a dumb, open network encourages investment and hardware and software innovation. We have contrasted this with the telephone and cellular networks, where application and hardware innovation are controlled by the network operators. We've also followed Google's efforts to open the cellular network by possibly purchasing spectrum and by developing and distributing Android, an open source mobile phone operating system bundled with Google applications like maps and mail.

Google has released some videos demonstrating prototypes of Android phones. For example, the following video shows a touchscreen phone reminiscent of the Apple iPhone.



(You can find other Android-related videos at the Android Web site linked to above or by searching on Youtube).

The most important feature shown in the video is not clever hardware or software -- Apple already did that with the iPhone -- but the open platform. The video begins and ends with Google co-founder Sergey Brin inviting developers to build Android applications. Based on his Internet experience, he feels that openness will be critical to the success of Android, and has kicked things off with a ten million dollar contest for application developers.

If he is right, third party applications will spur Android sales, and each Android phone sale will spread Google applications -- and ads. Not satisfied with being on your desktop, Google also wants to be in your pocket.

After viewing the prototype video, can you think of applications you would like to have on your next cell phone? Would you be willing to watch targeted advertisements in return for free cell phone service?