Will An Android Smash Open Your Mobile Phone in 2008?

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." - Alan Kay

This is a time when we all review the year and make predictions and resolutions for the new year. Blogs the past few weeks have been full of "Best Of" lists. I'm a big list maker in real life, but not big on predictions.

One of the rumors that was strong in the last half of 2007 was that Google would announce a "Gphone" (or gPhone?) that would knock out the iPhone because it would have free Wi-Fi connectivity or some such miracle.

It didn't happen.

But, what they did announce was their Open Handset Alliance and Android which may be more significant than a phone.

And it may have consequences in education too.

The Open Handset Alliance consists of 30+ technology and mobile companies (Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC, T-Mobile...) and the idea is that these partnerships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, etc will enable an open mobile software platform.

Google is planning that Android will be the foundation for many new phones and a new kind of mobile experience. I imagine that a lot of their plans are just markings on the white board right now, but new applications and capabilities that none of us can really predict are probably being imagineered (a Disney word that I love).

There's an we can’t imagine today. Of course, there's an intro to Android on YouTube that can explain some of this.

Google calls this "the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices." There's an operating system, user-interface and applications. That's the software you need to run a mobile phone. What must scare the telecom companies is that it is without proprietary obstacles that probably have slowed down mobile innovation.

Maria, the android from Fritz Lang's 1927 film METROPOLIS.
If I had to pick a big tech story for 2007, it would be the Open Everything movement. It's beyond open software by now. It's open courseware, open learning and a host of other trends. Realize that the current student population K-20 already feels that everything should be free to use - even if those songs, videos, TV shows software apps and movies only exist because people get paid to create most of them for a profit-making company.

I don't know if my sons will feel the same when they are in corporate America trying to make that profit, but their user experience the past 20 years will have some impact on their decisions.

Now, I won't be looking at the Software Development Kit for Android because I'm not a developer type, but the reviews have been pretty good for something that even Google does not consider "ready to go" yet.

From the Google blog

"We see Android as an important part of our strategy of furthering Google's goal of providing access to information to users wherever they are. We recognize that many among the multitude of mobile users around the world do not and may never have an Android-based phone. Our goals must be independent of device or even platform. For this reason, Android will complement, but not replace, our longstanding mobile strategy of developing useful and compelling mobile services and driving adoption of these products through partnerships with handset manufacturers and mobile operators around the world."

If you’re a mobile user like me, you’ll have to wait for these partners to develop things in the first half of 2008. But users can check out now mobile.google.com and get Google Maps for mobile, Gmail and their other applications on your current phone.

If you're an educator, it's another pop-up note telling you to stay tuned in to the Open Education movement that surrounds you - whether you accept or embrace it or not.


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