What Android means for Apple, MS, open source, enterprises

Google’s mobile operating system to have broad impact on wireless technology

What, no GPhone? That was the reaction from numerous commentators after Google unveiled its long-anticipated mobile phone plan on November 5. Yet what Google and partners such as T-Mobile, Motorola and Sprint Nextel of the newly formed Open Handset Alliance are doing will have broad impacts on wireless technology.

At the moment, Google is not releasing any mobile devices on its own. Rather, it has collaborated with several technology and wireless companies to develop Android, an open source platform that can be used by third-party developers to create applications for mobile devices. Although Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms, won't comment on the company's future plans to create a mobile phone of its own, he does note that "if you were to build a GPhone, you'd build it out of this [Android] platform."

Even without a GPhone, Android is fascinating in its own right. Here's a look at what Android means for the wireless market, for the enterprise, for open source, for Apple and Microsoft, and of course, what it means for Google.

What Android means for the wireless market

Because Android is an open source platform, it will allow users to connect to any network they choose, and will also let them add whatever applications they want. Van Baker, a research vice president at Gartner, says if the platform is successful and becomes widely adopted, it could pressure the major carriers to loosen their grip on their wireless devices. Thus, he says, companies such as Verizon might think twice before they disable Bluetooth on their handsets if they know their customers can easily switch to another carrier that will allow them to do as they please.

Dylan Schiemann, CEO of Web applications developer SitePath, also thinks that Android could go a long way toward prodding carriers to open their devices to more third-party applications.

"The mobile carriers always want to control everything, but they're showing signs of backing off on that," he says. "Carriers have enjoyed a long period where they've controlled what you put on a phone, and where they've charged you for what you put on your phone. If the Android platform works, it could change that dynamic."

While AT&T has yet to publicly comment on the Android announcement, Verizon has given it a warm reception. Jeffrey Nelson, Verizon's executive director of corporate communications, says Verizon "welcomes the support of Google, handset makers and others for our goal of providing more open development of applications on mobile handsets" and that "the highly competitive wireless industry is demonstrating that neither legislation nor regulation is required to produce innovation."

What Android means for the enterprise

Some analysts say the enterprise impact will be minimal, because Google is making a consumer play with Android. But consumers like to bring popular devices to the office, and end up using them for both work and play.

"If it's successful and people have it, it will come into businesses and we'll adapt to it," says CTO Dave Leonard of Infocrossing, an IT outsourcing provider in New Jersey.

It's hard for IT departments to decide whether to support Google's Android, because it's a platform for developing phones, rather than a phone itself, says Ken Dulaney, a Gartner analyst. Each IT department is likely to pick one type of Android-powered phone to support and not support others, because they don't want to risk lack of interoperability, he says.

A better approach, argues Dan Kohn, COO of the Linux Foundation, is to pick one set of standards that IT will support for calendaring, e-mail applications, VPN and so on, and tell users they can use any mobile phone compatible with those standards.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?