April 23, 2008 |
The launch of the iPhone (shortly followed by the iPod Touch) seemed to fuel developer's desires to create mobile-specific web applications despite the device's ability to access the entire internet (without the WAP/WML limitations of most mobile devices). Many mobile web users find the wireless application protocol (WAP) too restrictive and slow, greatly limiting what WAP browsers can access on the internet. On the other hand, all mobile devices (even the iPhone) have small screens and excessive scrolling can be annoying (not to mention EDGE speeds until a 3G version is released). Even still, both the iPhone and iPod touch have spurred movement in the mobile web.
Now, with Google's Android platform even closer to reality, developers could find themselves with a new, open source mobile platform to develop apps for (both native and web-based), if the Open Handset Alliance becomes as revolutionary as many are expecting. The news today is that T-Mobile USA is already preparing for the release of an Android handset to hit stores before the end of this year.
Recently, Joe Sims, VP and general manager of T-Mobile's broadband and new business division, stated that not only has he already seen prototypes of the "impressive" Android-based phone, but that T-Mobile "will have more than one product…(The move to an open platform) will be innovation across the board, not just one device."
As far as manufacturers, the T-Mobile prototype spoken of could be from Motorola, Samsung, HTC or LG, as these are the four handset manufacturers that have joined up with Google. Sprint and Verizon are the other major U.S. carriers who are members of the alliance but neither has yet to announce plans for the release of Android devices. This could work out to T-Mobile advantage, as the Deutsche Telekom-owned company has long lagged behind other services in terms of added features (mobile television, high-speed internet, etc.).
Personally, I see the development of the Android platform as a 'step forward' (even if it's not the perfect solution), because the days of carrier restrictions and outrageous prices for upgraded features should end. Who wants to keep paying by the MB for access to a carrier when free wi-fi is available? And who want to pay $5+ to their phone company for each game they download when their are open source developers around the world itching to create fun games and useful apps for people worldwide… for FREE. All they need is the ability, the platform, and some incentive. That is what Google is trying to accomplish, especially considering that they have $10 million up for grabs for developers.
Though what will come of the impending release of Android and compatible handsets is still unknown, it should defintely help garner some change in the mobile market and help further develop a universal mobile web. My only concerns deal with how the change will affect contract terms, the prices of handsets, and monthly rates for the carriers involved.