Google Android gets positive early reviews

Some developers see great potential for opening up mobile industry

Paranoid about Android?

But despite their positive reviews of the Android platform, the developers identified some potential roadblocks that could hurt its prospects of becoming widely adopted across the mobile industry. Moshir, for instance, worries that carriers might lock down the operating system, preventing applications from accessing phone hardware. This has been a problem with previous tool kits such as Java ME, he says. Carriers often limit the number of applications that can run on a handset because they don't want to have to provide support when something goes wrong, he says.

"They lock it down to the point that an application cannot access the hardware," Moshir says. "The question is whether Google is going to be able to convince carriers to use its operating system but at the same time convince them not to lock it down."

Capobianco thinks that one of Google's challenges will be figuring out how to monetize the platform through advertising. Because mobile phones aren't ideal for Web browsing, he notes, the company isn't likely to make much revenue from users who connect to its search engine through their phones. Rather, he says, Google might consider getting companies to utilize the platform's location-aware capabilities for local promotions.

"They'll have to develop something that allows you to read advertising messages, but still not feel intrusive," he says. "Imagine if you were in looking at a map in a certain neighborhood, and a nearby pizza shop put a message on the map letting you know that they have a special two-for-one deal on pizzas that day."

Another potential problem is that many enterprises might see Android-powered mobile devices as security nightmares that could leave their companies' sensitive information vulnerable to hackers. Similar issues have been raised in the past about using Apple's iPhone in the workplace, and Google's open source platform could further stoke fears among CIOs that Android-powered devices aren't work-safe.

Carsten Brinkschulte, the CEO of mobile device management company Synchronica, says that while there are some legitimate security concerns for Android-powered devices, enterprise users should take a measured approach to dealing with them and shouldn't outright block them from corporate networks.

"I think in general this is not an additional security threat to enterprises," he says. "Many enterprises already have people running around with laptops where some are Windows-based and some are Linux-based. Those are probably a bigger security concern than the Android platform."

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