CTIA Wireless Google's Android platform is designed to drive fragmentation of mobile operating systems, creating an industry in which Google's cross-platform applications will thrive.
Why? The search-engine giant wants to ensure there's no equivalent of Microsoft Office in the mobile phone world. So says Sanjay Jha, chief operating officer of Qualcomm's chipset division QCT. "Google wants fragmentation in the industry [and] is putting a lot of resources behind Linux" he told us.
It is Office which drives desktop users towards Windows, despite the availability of alternative products. Office works best on Windows, and users want to be able to integrate with the word processors, spreadsheets and presentation software that everyone else is using.
If mobile devices converge on one or two platforms, then developers will decide it's worth porting native applications only to these platforms – as in the desktop world. But with fragmented environments Web 2.0 technologies become the only effective way to create mobile applications. These are the kinds of applications at which Google excels. Launching a new platform, and putting considerable resources behind it, is an effective way of preventing platform consolidation.
Qualcomm is a member of the Open Handset Alliance, the Android's fan club, and is demonstrating Android this week at CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas. The company has HTC, Samsung and Motorola lined up to launch Android handsets this year, but is keen to stress its OS-agnostic approach and happy to discuss LiMo and the various other OSes in the increasingly fragmented market.
It is debatable if fragmentation of the mobile OS market was what Google had in mind when launching Android; but this will do the company no harm.
Android may indeed provide developers with a single platform for all mobile applications, (rich features, integration with the hardware etc.) On the other hand, functionality may be limited to nothing more than interface development using AJAX. ®
For all the news on the CTIA Wireless trade show see our CTIA roundup.