What Android means for Google
Since Google makes most of its money from its AdSense ad distribution network, it has an interest in giving mobile phone users broad access to the Web. If more people have access to Google on their desktops and mobile devices, then advertisers will pay more for ad space.
Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt ambitiously describes Google's target market: the entire universe of cell phone users.
"There are at least three billion mobile users in the world today, and there are more mobile phones worldwide than there are Internet users or landline phones," Schmidt says. "Getting people access to info is Google's core mission and mobile phones have to be part of that."
Implied in that mission is that Google, in turn, gains access to consumers of advertising.
"Google is enabling advertising in a very real way in the handset world," says Frank Dickson, co-founder and chief research officer of Multimedia Intelligence. "You're going to see a whole host of advertising-supported applications being ... delivered ... into the handset. Google is the most efficient provider of advertising in the online world."
What Android means for open source and Linux
Linux already has a major presence on mobile phones, but the entrance of Google and the Open Handset Alliance -- which has 34 member organizations worldwide -- adds to the momentum.
"We're a huge believer in diversity of options on mobile phones," Kohn of the Linux Foundation says. "Linux is already an important, growing presence there. I think having the Google software as an additional open source option is only going to accelerate that adoption."
Today's mobile operating systems include the open source Symbian and the proprietary Windows Mobile. Kohn's key concern is enabling interoperability, so that Web applications designed for one open source phone work well on others. "Although there are a huge number of mobile phones using Linux today, there tends not to be great interoperability between them," he says.
While Kohn welcomes Google's presence, he thinks further crowding of the Linux mobile landscape might confuse matters. There's already the LiMo Foundation, which makes a Linux platform for mobile phones; the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum; and the Mobile Linux Initiative.
"We have so many darn acronyms and different consortiums at this point, that I'd actually hope to see a little consolidation," Kohn says."
What Android means for Microsoft
Nothing -- but only if you believe Microsoft.
"We already have an alliance around Windows Mobile, with 160 wireless operators in 55 countries and with 48 device makers," Scott Rockfeld, a mobile communications group product manager at Microsoft, says in a Computerworld story. "Nothing new and revolutionary was announced" with Android, Rockfeld said. "It was ho-hum compared to what we've done for the last five years with Windows Mobile."
But an open source development platform backed by a name like Google could eat into Microsoft's market share, Dickson argues.
"They're struggling because the Microsoft model is licensed software," he says. "When you start licensing software for US$20 or US$40 on a handset that costs US$100 to manufacture, that's quite a hit."