Has Google bitten off more than it can chew with Android?

25 Jun 2008

In the past few days, Google has had it rough with Android. While the 3G iPhone release date is approaching, Google has had to delay its plans for getting the Android platform onto mobiles, and in the meantime Nokia has just bought the leading smart phone operating system Symbian for €264m.

Google’s main hurdle, it appears, is dealing with the myriad partners in the Open Handset Alliance that all have different requirements from the Android platform.

Speaking to siliconrepublic.com, CEO of Irish mobile firm Mobanode, Shane McAllister said: “Google has set its sights very, very high with Android to build the first complete, open and free mobile platform.

“However, by involving more than 30 technology and mobile partners, the Android birth was never going to be smooth, or timely, as there are just too many voices to be heard”

The Android partners are going to be hard to satisfy, he said: “The carriers have a certain set of requirements, the handset manufacturers another set and the developers another set.

“True, they might be all playing off the same hymn sheet, but certainly they’ll be playing their own instruments and trying to make theirs sound the loudest!”

McAllister said the carriers in particular have their own requirements and want to have the ability to add their own customisations to the platform to set themselves apart from their competitors.

As there are so many players involved in the Open Handset Alliance, McAllister doesn’t think this delay will be the first either: “Contrast the Android development process with that of the iPhone – Apple built the hardware, the software, sold the product and selected the carriers – this was the key to its quick development and its early success.”

So has Google bitten off more than it can chew? McAllister thinks this is a possibility but because the mobile platform is so intrinsic to Google’s success going forward, it will forge ahead as best as possible.

This is a huge undertaking but Google are “hoping to shore up the future mobile operating system space – much like Microsoft with MS-DOS in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

“Will this work? Only time will tell, but Google, above all others, has the resources to see it through, and more importantly, needs it to work as the mobile handset is their future,” McAllister added.

By Marie Boran