14 more companies sign up to Open Handset Alliance

Fourteen new companies have joined the Open Handset Alliance, the group backing Google's Android mobile-phone software.

Fourteen new companies including Sony Ericsson have joined the Open Handset Alliance, the group backing Google's Android mobile operating system. The total number of companies in the alliance now totals 47.

Sony Ericsson and Vodafone are perhaps the most notable new members. Sony Ericsson has traditionally used Symbian to power its smartphones but recently made its first phone based on Windows Mobile, the Xperia.

Vodafone was one of the first big operators to announce that it planned to narrow down the number of operating systems used in phones on its networks to just two or three. In 2006, it said that it had chosen Symbian, Linux and Windows Mobile as the three platforms to run its smartphones for the next five years. While Android is based on Linux, it is not compatible with standards being set by the LiMo Foundation, a group creating and publishing specifications for middleware for mobile Linux devices.

Other new OHA members include AKM Semiconductor, ARM, AsusTek Computer, Atheros Communications, Borqs, Ericsson, Garmin International, Huawei Technologies, Omron Software, Softbank Mobile, Teleca and Toshiba.

The members will either deploy Android devices, contribute significant code to Android, or support the project with products and services that accelerate the availability of Android devices, the OHA said in a statement.

It is unclear how "open" the OHA is. The OHA Web site says that the group welcomes "companies willing to make serious and ongoing contributions to openness in the mobile world." However, it does not publish its member agreement, and it's unclear if any company can join or if they must be invited or approved. The OHA and Google have not replied to repeated questions about membership in the group.

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