Google exec praises, criticizes Apple iPhone

"There are just certain apps you can't build on an iPhone" Google group manager says

Also during his presentation, Miner stressed the goal of opening up mobile devices to applications. These devices, though, have been inhibited by factors such as small screens and keyboards. There also has been a lack of openness in platforms, networks, and devices, said Miner. For example, a third-party application could be written in Java, but the target phone runs Symbian. "[It] turns out those two worlds don't talk to one another," he said.

The mobile arena also has had to deal with broken business models, such as a confused relationship between OEMs and carriers and having no one who understands the software. Developers also have had little freedom or power.

But problems are being solved, such as good technology and design overcoming UI constraints, said Miner. Touch-based screens represent innovation, for example.

Openness also is starting to emerge, he said. Android, for its part, started on the premise of openness, Miner said. Also, mobile platform control is shifting to software companies, according to Miner.

"Android is a complete platform, not just an OS," and features a software development kit, he said.

In another eComm presentation Thursday, Evan Henshaw-Plath, architect of the Fire Eagle project at Yahoo Brickhouse, discussed the location-based services offered by Fire Eagle.

Location-based services offer the promise of enabling people to put themselves on the map, so to speak, but they have been beset by issues such as people not wanting every application to know their location, Henshaw-Plath said.

Currently available in an invitation-only mode, Fire Eagle is intended to make location-sharing easy, he said. Users control access.

"We take location information in, we geo-code it, and we authorize other applications to get that information," Henshaw-Plath said.

"We hope to launch once we get enough applications built on the platform," he said.

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