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Google's Open Source Mobile Platform

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the gphone-by-any-other-name dept.

Google 199

As expected, today Google took the wraps off of the gPhone (as the media have for months been referring to the rumored project). Google is "leading a broad industry alliance to transform mobile phones into powerful mobile computers," and will be licensing its software to all comers on an open source basis under the Apache license. (The Wall Street Journal's Ben Worthen demonstrates a miserable grasp of what "open source" means.) Google's US partners include Nextel and Sprint, but not AT&T nor Verizon. Phones will be available in the second half of 2008 — not the spring as earlier reports had speculated. News.com's analysis warns that Google won't take over the mobile market overnight, though they quote Forrester in the opinion that Google may be one of the three biggest mobile players after several years of shakeout.

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FRIST PSOT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250769)

FRIST "Did you mean: FIRST POST?" PSOT

Phone or Platform? (1, Redundant)

loubs001 (1126973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250775)

So is it an actual product like an iPhone or JUST a platform like Java ME?

Re:Phone or Platform? (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250811)

it's just a platform, google has some serious hardware backers though. from googles point of view it's a great move, all they have to produce is software which they are really good at, and someone else takes the risk of producing the actual phones. It would also open up more places for them to shove adsense, which is their cash maker.

consumers will be the winners because it's a serious competitor to at&t and their outrageous charges, it opens up the possiblity of an adsense supported phone, and because google is doing it microsoft will do it giving us even more competition.

Re:Phone or Platform? (1)

turbinewind (667970) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251349)

Interesting to me is that Sprint is a partners. They're among the smaller players in the cell market currently. Verizon seems to keep going strong with a very restrictive software platform (BREW) and AT&T stays strong with a relatively open system (JAVA). What motivations does Sprint have to go Google? Perhaps name recognition/marketing cache. I don't see much sales power in the cache of Googles more open platform. The bulk of consumers don't seem to be affected by the "openness" of the software platforms their phones run. Folks are still paying good money to "Buy" Ringtones of music they already have license to use from CD purchases. Even on phones that permit user-loaded MP3s to be used as ringtones, ringtone sales are still moving right along. Availability of Brew apps is very limited and expensive, yet doesn't seem to be holding Verizon back. I don't see a big market impact from google's entry. I hope I'm wrong, never-the-less.

Re:Phone or Platform? (3, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251629)

It's not the 'openness' of the platform that matters. It's the openness of the end-product, that is delivered to the customer [namely you and me] that matters [well, to you and me]. And that's an issue that's pretty much independent of what OS the phone is running. Particularly in the US.

And Sprint being part of this 'group' means nothing w.r.t. how open the shipping product will be.

The US wireless carriers will fight tooth and nail to NOT be treated as what they are: wireless service providers.

On the other hand, if anything this could make customer demand for 'openness' more difficult, because this fractures the market for developers a bit more. Now, to develop a ubiquitous app, you need to support another platform. One that with the source available, developers can't necessarily count on a given set of API's even being available on a 'googleos' phone...

I think it'll still take quite a while before the US wireless carriers permit much advancement. Even Apple had to deliberately cripple iTunes support on the iPhone so you can't use it over your "unlimited data plan" EDGE connection.

Re:Phone or Platform? (5, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250815)

Ok, so not reading the article I get, who has the time. I am getting used to people not reading the summary either. But not reading the title of the article is just too much! Thats it, you are expelled from slashdot!

Re:Phone or Platform? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250843)

You are not smart.

Re:Phone or Platform? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251001)

And you are not a good troll.

Re:Phone or Platform? (1)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250849)

I for one am happy that Google is entering the mobile market with a Linux based phone. Good for competition and good for Linux.

Re:Phone or Platform? (1)

tventiethfret (984006) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251303)

Its open source, not linux based. They are not coming up with a phone either, its just the phone OS.

Google is giving the software away to others who will build the phones. The company invested heavily in the project to ensure that all of its services are available on mobile phones. Its ultimate goal is to cash in on the effort by selling advertisements to mobile phone users, just as it does on Internet-connected computers.
I dont understand how.

Re:Phone or Platform? (3, Interesting)

smilindog2000 (907665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251635)

Nope, it's Linux based, and any add-on Google writes will be under the Apache license. The video also seemed to indicate that linux hackers will be comfortable in the system, as well. Compared to just having some crap Java virtual machine, this could be huge. Hacked iPhones made rapid progress partly because they run real *-nix, and Apache was ported before any of the traditional toy web servers, and SSH before telnet, and even a VNC viewer (with a somewhat broken control interface). I guess we'll see in about a week what's under the hood.

Re:Phone or Platform? (1)

loubs001 (1126973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250931)

I'll confess I hadnt read the complete article at the time (hey its long! blame the rush to comment early) but I have since. The summary doesnt say that it wasnt a complete phone (a phone can also be a platform, which the iPhone + SDK will be, and the SavaJe built on the JavaFX platform). but I read the article and it turns out its not that. My comment was more of a reaction of suprise since I was expecting something iPhone like. There are already several platforms around. iPhone, Java ME (though its technology is now outgrowing it), OpenMoko, JavaFX, .NET Compact Framework. I wanted to see a device that was going to make me go 'wow'. But we'll have to wait and see what google's partners come up with.

Re:Phone or Platform? (4, Funny)

darkhitman (939662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251409)

Are you kidding? He's fast approaching the Ideal Slashdot User, who to this point has only been simulated mathematically - he who reads nothing at all.

Re:Phone or Platform? (1, Interesting)

loubs001 (1126973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250835)

So it's just a platform. I'm a little dissapointed. I think alot of us were waiting for a iPhone competitor. But so far it's just another linux and Java based software stack. What sets this platform apart form the rest?

Re:Phone or Platform? (2, Insightful)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251019)

> What sets this platform apart form the rest?

The license, and the license fee. Plus, I'll bet, the development environment.

Re:Phone or Platform? (2, Informative)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251117)

HTC, one of the partners, makes a ton of great phone hardware, currently held back by the crappy Windows Mobile software it's running; I'd expect that a lot of that hardware will run Android in the future.

Re:Phone or Platform? (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251335)

Its the Java platform part that sucks the most - give me C/C++

Re:Phone or Platform? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251211)

It's a platform, development based on Java but not Java ME.

Re:Phone or Platform? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251859)

Grow up, get a real job, and just buy an iphone. There is seriously no room for hobbyists toys here. Everything is shifting towards black boxes and it is actually a good thing. With more blackbox technology run by competent tech companies we can actually have a coherent and stable technology infrastructure. Windows, for instance, was never the problem, it was the loose amount of software that could be run on it without any checks, and the pc industry breaking functionality. But seriously back to the point, what is the point of all this open platform shit? You want portable that just works? just get an apple product. Don't fuck with anything like the nokia tablets or anything like that. Technology will be able to flourish and at the same time be orderly and 'just work' if we just stuck to coherency.

pictures (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250779)

useless without pictures.

verizon and at&t don't want to partener with them! what a shock.....

Re:pictures (1)

ynososiduts (1064782) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250805)

Especially since AT&T has the iPhone, and Verizon just doesn't like anyone. Man, I have to find a different cell phone provider. Which are the least opressive?

Re:pictures (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251049)

Verizon just doesn't like anyone.

Well, that's convenient. I don't like Verizon.

Re:pictures (5, Informative)

Mr.Radar (764753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251123)

I don't have any experience with Sprint but T-Mobile is probably the best in terms of being "open" of the big four mobile operators in the US. For example, until a few years ago you could get free web browsing through them by exploiting a hole in their free WAP access service. Instead of just shutting the hole and ignoring the people who didn't want to pay for a full Internet plan, they decided to shut it while transitioning to tiered Internet plans so people who didn't need to tether could still get the full web on their phones at a reduced price. Most phones also apparently will still let you tether with their cheap service, though T-Mobile will cut off your access if you use too much bandwidth while doing this.

They use GSM which is a big plus if you want to buy your own phone. I haven't yet needed to because, while all of their phones that I've owned were locked and had T-Mobile logos and "premium services" everywhere, none of them were in any way crippled like Verizon is infamous for doing. I even added a custom ringtone to one of my phones using only a standard USB cable and the manufacturer's ringtone transfer software. Their coverage is pretty good, the only time I've had trouble with it was when I was traveling through West Virginia which is a hard area to cover with cell phone service anyways. Their biggest problem is that they don't yet have any 3G service available anywhere (they're waiting for the spectrum they bought for it to become available for their use) and their customer service is nothing to write home about, but that's pretty much par for the course in this industry.

Re:pictures (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251747)

they don't yet have any 3G service available anywhere (they're waiting for the spectrum they bought for it to become available for their use)

More information? I'd be curious to read this - last I'd heard they'd deployed to at least a dozen big cities (yeah, yeah, I know they're wayyyyy behind the eight ball, but still)...?

first psot!!! (0, Offtopic)

doyoulikeworms (1094003) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250785)

from my cell phone running the gPhone platform!

Re:first psot!!! (5, Informative)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250927)

If anyone was interested in Ben Worthen's moronic grasp of open-source, its pasted below. E-mail your tirades to biztech@wsj.com, of which Ben Worthen is the lead writer, and ask him about how he got his job in the first place.

Information-technology departments will ban employees from connecting phones that run Google's operating system to their computers or the corporate network. The reason is that Google's operating system is open, meaning anyone can write software for it. That includes bad guys, who will doubtlessly develop viruses and other malicious code for these phones, which unsuspecting Google phones owners will download. Employees could spread the malicious code to the rest of the company when they synch their phones to their computers or use it to check email.

The way to combat this is to develop anti-virus and anti-malware software for phones and to develop security procedures similar to those that have evolved for PCs over the last several years. But that's going to take time and money - neither of which the average IT department has. So until then, expect Google phones to be persona non grata at companies.

Re:first psot!!! (2, Insightful)

loubs001 (1126973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250969)

I think thats a bit harsh. He didnt even use the term 'open source', he just said 'open' and clarified what he meant by it, which is that anyone can write software for it, which is true (contrast that to the pre-SDK iPhone). I think his concern is a valid one. You could imagine a malicious application on the phone that uses Bluetooth to detect other phones nearby and spam them with SMS messages or something. But I'm sure google's thought of this and there will be security mechanisms, permissions, signed applications with digital certificates etc. etc.

Re:first psot!!! (4, Insightful)

Datamonstar (845886) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251091)

No, it's not at all harsh for what is supposed to be a professional writer. He starts off with an idea, a dangerous beginning in the first place, that there should be some sort of software security specifically for interfacing phones and PCs in the office. A good idea (perhaps even a profitable one) and doesn't think it through at all. He starts off, not with the good idea, but with a broad, one-sided assumption that all open applications are prone to security issues simply because they are open. If he were somewhere in the ballpark range of competent he would have reversed the two topics and stated that we need security software for smart phone to PC interfaces and that the result of not developing it could be rogue open applications creating a security nightmare. But he didn't. He speculated on something that went well in hand with his idea, but he didn't have a clue about it worked, and also didn't do any research on it to get more knowledge. He even pretty much says all this (sans admitting that he doesn't know what he's talking about and didn't do any research, but that much is very obvious) in his rehash he added to the article to address the people who e-mailed him about his mistake. The update is almost as large as the article itself. I'd say he pretty much deserves to be criticized on his grasp of Open Source as it is demonstrated by this article.

Re:first psot!!! (5, Informative)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250997)

FWIW, he followed up with the following:

Update: I've read through the comments and most people seem to think I'm saying something I wasn't trying to say. That's my fault for writing sloppy. I don't think that Google's mobile operating system is a security problem because it's open source. I think that the phones that use it could become a security threat because if Google succeeds there are going to be a lot of applications for this phone and individuals are going to be able to download whichever ones they want to use. As this happens bad guys are going to start targeting these people with their own code, much the way they target PC users today.

The fact of the matter is that while most companies have anti-virus and anti-malware software on PCs, they don't do much of anything to secure phones. The point that I obviously didn't succeed at making originally is that if Google achieves its vision companies will realize that they have this weakness, and not knowing how to address it — companies would need to buy all sorts of security software and put in place all sorts of policies — their first instinct will be to ban the phones. Employees will get upset because, again if Google achieves its vision, these phones will be pretty darn cool and a pretty helpful business tool. Hence the conflict that I think it will cause. It has nothing to do with open source or Google per se, and everything to do with companies not being prepared for the phone as a dominant computing platform.

Re:first psot!!! (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251115)

I love how in the reply he inserts the word "could" as if he used it the first time around. He did not. He clearly stated it would happen.
Is this how tech articles get written? The writer spews a load of bollocks and then backs out of his own assertions later by saying he merely thought they "could" happen?

Re:first psot!!! (1)

Sudheer_BV (1049540) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251781)

He realized later that he just assumed in his first post that Google's software for mobile phones was insecure. The picture included in the original article adds weight to this argument. And then he tires to defend himself with another interpretation of his article. He's a troll.

Re:first psot!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251147)

It has nothing to do with open source or Google per se, and everything to do with companies not being prepared for the phone as a dominant computing platform.

Yes that clearly comes across in his article...you just have to look past the parts about er...Google and open source.

Still moronic. (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251381)

First, it's a blatant rewrite in at least a few places -- while I saw what he was trying to say, maybe, it was worded so horribly wrong that I'd be amazed if it wasn't intentional.

"Google's operating system is open, meaning anyone can write software for it."

Yeah, that's not at all implying that it's about an open platform (vs iPhones locked down one), and not about an open source platform.

But more importantly, he's assuming that cell phone viruses are somehow new with this phone, and that they will somehow cause problems for a corporate network, and that the way to deal with it is anti-virus.

This is wrong on all counts. Cell phone (and mobile) viruses are not new, though they've never been widespread. They generally don't jump to desktop machines -- the corporate network should be safe. And generally, no one's stupid enough to run anti-virus software on Linux, and very few on the Mac -- even on Windows, the usefulness of anti-virus is questionable.

So, your IT guy might freak out -- but really, you've got a much higher risk of getting hit by some road warrior bringing his laptop back into the company network (from Starbucks or whatever).

So that's two for two. Spam him again. Any chance he'll write an update that isn't pure bullshit?

Re:Still moronic. (3, Insightful)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251619)

But more importantly, he's assuming that cell phone viruses are somehow new with this phone, and that they will somehow cause problems for a corporate network, and that the way to deal with it is anti-virus.

This is wrong on all counts. Cell phone (and mobile) viruses are not new, though they've never been widespread. They generally don't jump to desktop machines -- the corporate network should be safe. And generally, no one's stupid enough to run anti-virus software on Linux, and very few on the Mac -- even on Windows, the usefulness of anti-virus is questionable.

Things might change if this platform becomes ubiquitous. I'm not saying it's likely, mind you, and anyway the same arguments could be applied to the iPhone SDK (once the bad guys yoink themselves a copy of those dev tools).

Re:first psot!!! (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251935)

anyone who refers to programmers of virus/malware whathaveyou should go back to the 2nd grade. Why does everything have to be good guys and bad guys. What if good guys wrote some virus or worm to take down a corporation that was doing something unreasonable! is that so bad? yes and no, its grey! bad guys! I will say this, if you look at comic books and movies in various countries. Almost every story in America is good vs evil. And in a lot of other places in the world the stories are usually more real and less dichotomous, for the most part.

Re:first psot!!! (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251037)

The sound you just heard was Walt Mossberg giving Ben Worthen a right bitch-slapping.

Re:first psot!!! (2, Insightful)

Bent Cardan (1185013) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251171)

Bent Cardan says: Too bad about the gphone. Why can't they make their operating system open and protected like OS X?

Betamax (5, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251311)

This guy is so clueless, his Betamax VCR is still flashing 12:00...

Re:first psot!!! (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251351)

I think that's more him lacking any grasp of technology at all, not uncommon for the wall street journal (or most any news outlet). Out of the box any "gPhone" is going to have about as many security issues related to user-downloadable software as a Blackberry. Just because the operating system is open source in no way implies that the stock firmware shipped by the handset manufacturers or the carriers is going to let the phone do anything that it isn't "supposed" to do. It'll just be another phone running Java apps like all the other phones running Java apps.

Your average user isn't going to know or care about updating the operating system on their phone. What an idiot!

Software Development Skills / Security (0)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250787)

Google can be great at developing software -- they can also be very average. Hopefully, they deliver the former and not the latter with the gphone.

Also, am I the only one that would think twice before purchasing a phone like this for concerns over viruses, etc? I don't know of any large scale, massively disruptive phone viruses yet, but they can't be too far behind the iPhone gPhone combo pack.

Re:Software Development Skills / Security (4, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250873)

You read the article I take it?

Viruses need to self replicate.
Social Enginnering 'OMG Download this cool app d00dz' doesnt count.

There arent any easy ways to get a phone to send a virus to another phone.
The easiest way is Bluetooth or Wifi and then its still a pain in the ass to make it spread.

With Bluetooth you first need to somehow get another phone to connect to you, without user intervention which is impossible (without flaws in the stack).
Then you need to send data to the other phone in a way which makes it execute the code. Also basically impossible.

Whats the chance of Google's code having fundamental bugs like that? Nil.

Re:Software Development Skills / Security (1)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251043)

Viruses need to self replicate.
Social Enginnering 'OMG Download this cool app d00dz' doesnt count.


Why? Because it doesn't fit with some particular definition you prefer to use? You do realize that the first computer viruses involved users sticking a floppy disk with a "cool app" in a drive and running the program which happened to be infected by the virus. In fact the traditional virus would attach itself to other programs and had zero to do with the infection vector.

The Morris Worm on the other hand had a lot more to do with automatically spreading itself.

I'm a lot more worried if this is the Canter & Siegel moment for cellphones. If so then I'm going to find those wankers at Google and shake my finger under their noses. And possibly pee on their sneakers.

Re:Software Development Skills / Security (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251403)

The first viruses spread themselves by infecting other files which were then moved by the users.
That fits the definition.

Social Engineering attacks cannot be stopped. People are extremely stupid and will do what a popup tells them to do.
IMHO if someone willingly installs malware on their computer, its their own fault.

Viruses which spread themselves are much more scary however especially the good ones.

Re:Software Development Skills / Security (1, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251129)

the rise of the google fanboi. Hail google.

We know that there are certain security issues that google does not worry about [news.com] .

We know that google will put feature about security [theregister.co.uk] .

We also know that google is avoiding those with experience [slashdot.org] and instead hiring and training those who will tow the party line.

None of this seems particularly hopeful or optimistic. If a device is discoverable, it is easy enough hook up to and transfer a payload. In public areas I usually see at least a couple discoverable cell phones. Even if bluetooth security is working, people will pass trojans to one another, just like they did in the 90's. Trojans do count, and are the primary threat that must be defended aginst. To use and old metaphor, google is allowing a new generation of unsophisticated users to gain access to powerful and potentially dangerous applications. Not so bad in itself, but bad as google is a very young company, who seems to be blind to the benefits of experience, so appears to be ignoring the lessons of 20 years of security experience.

Re:Software Development Skills / Security (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251201)

"instead hiring and training those who will tow the party line"

What a load of spin.

and your trying to tag google as irresponsible because people might catch trojans? welcome to the fucking world. nothing on earth is going to prevent people willingly running annakornakova.jpg.exe.

to suggest google is somehow negligent in this area is too retarded for words.

Re:Software Development Skills / Security (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251471)

hiring and training those who will tow the party line.

It's Toe the line. As in "put your foot right there and don't cross over." The way you wrote it they'd have to be dragging around some festive rope or something.

Re:Software Development Skills / Security (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251053)

> Also, am I the only one that would think twice before purchasing a phone like this for concerns over viruses, etc?

I'm not sure why you think this platform is any more susceptible than any others (apart from Microsoft ones, of course). There are plenty of Linux phones already (mostly Motorola ones and in China, IINM).

Of course, you should think twice about purchasing any phone (or anything else, for that matter) for that reason, but I don't think this one will be any different to others.

hmm (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250789)

But will it run li... perhaps it will!

[OT] Re:hmm (1)

g0at (135364) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250991)

"This sig is copywritten by the owner and may not be copied in any form without expressed written consent."

Um... I don't think you understand copyright [wikipedia.org] . It has to do with rights, not with writing. Unless you are trying to make a clever pun...

-b

Re:[OT] Re:hmm (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251153)

Not to mention the phrase is usually "express, written consent". Or perhaps thatskinnyguy writes a sonnet as his expression of written consent.

Re:hmm (2, Funny)

greg1104 (461138) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251081)

And it should also be easy to build a Beowulf cluster of these phones.

Re:hmm (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251615)

But will it run li... perhaps it will!
Seriously, though, the real question is which Linux will it run - custom, or based on something familiar? And using what toolkit - GTK or Qt? etc. etc. TFA and the website have no details yet. Perhaps on the 12th we will know more.

Another mobile platform announcement (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250793)

Goatse is announce its Open Sores Mobile Anus Platform featuring all of your favorite Slashdot editors

coming to a town near you soon!!

sign up now [slashdot.org]

Whither the nPhone? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250803)

Niggers gots to know.

Creativity (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250821)

A lot of thought must have went into the name of gPhone. Good job Google, we haven't seen any other [lowercase letter]phones before.

Re:Creativity (2, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250861)

err, the whole lowercase inital before the name of something started a long time before apple numbnuts.

i'd strongly advise you don't throw that stone in anyones direction least it fly back and hit you in the head.

Re:Creativity (1)

shmackie (1049632) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251467)

Also, I believe it was the media that coined the 'gPhone' pseudonym

Re:Creativity (4, Informative)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251273)

Google has never called it the "gPhone"; Bloggers and press came up with that name since they needed to call it something. Google's name for the platform is Android [openhandsetalliance.com] .

gPhone (4, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251843)

Well if it does end up being called a gPhone, I reckon it'll hit Apple right in the iSpot.

Just in time (0, Offtopic)

Sterling2p (922774) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250847)

This is great! My contract is about to run out and I am thinking about my options.

Re:Just in time (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251085)

It seems there won't be any gPhones until the second half of next year, so you have basically a year to think about it.

open phones rock (5, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250867)

For the past 3 days I've been trying to modify and mess with my Motorola V3M Razor and it's a glitchy hell to try and do. Any phone that's more open than the current phone Nazis keep them is fine with me. All those dollar per ringtone and wallpaper people can shove it. Oh and especially that chick on late night TV commercials with the weird accent telling me I can win like $32,000 if I unscramble the word and text it in. I hope Google tracks her down and gets her deported. Now some of you may be asking, "Do you have anger issues with cell phone carriers and their associates" to which I say, "Don't you?"

it's just incompetence (1, Insightful)

m2943 (1140797) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250959)

For the past 3 days I've been trying to modify and mess with my Motorola V3M Razor and it's a glitchy hell to try and do. Any phone that's more open than the current phone Nazis keep them is fine with me.

You simply bought a bad phone. If you want an extensible or modifiable phone, you can already get a Palm, Nokia, or Windows Mobile GSM phone; those are quite extensible. The advantage of Android over those existing systems is that it's probably easier to program because it gives you a full set of desktop APIs.

Re:it's just incompetence (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251767)

Curious - exactly what APIs will you get with Android that are unavailable to Windows Mobile developers?

DUPE (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250937)

Let me be the first to say DUPE [slashdot.org] .

Come ON! I guess Slashdot's speed at getting the original post on the front page threw you guys off. Usually these things come at least a day after everyone else.

(Not that I don't prefer Slashdot. I flame because I care.)

Mobile Data Charges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21250939)

I still don't see how this can be useful unless the carriers (in Canada, at least) offer more reasonable data packages. Right now Rogers offers 5MB per month for $5. Additional usage is priced at 3 cents per kilobyte.

Re:Mobile Data Charges (1)

chrisv (12054) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251235)

Eep. That's painful. I would have already spent $120 on data charges if I had to put up with those data rates in the past 2 days... I've only had my current phone for that long, too. Ouch.

bluetooth peer to peer (0, Offtopic)

osoese (933101) | more than 6 years ago | (#21250977)

with a sling-blade mmmhmmm.

Re:bluetooth peer to peer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251789)

French fried taters. mmmhmm

Ben Worthen's Opinion (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251005)

Is great. Phones using the gPhone system will be a security nightmare for corporations because, SURELY, will be virus/trojans/malware for them. Have to love how informed and objective is that opinion. Is not like there are no virus already for smartphones (some that were in the wild probably?) but a lot of technologies dont need to have so easy for that kind of malware. Maybe he is generalization about windows, that probably is the only thing he can think of about PC, and that should be already a nightmare for corporatiosn because the traditional "security" of it (something that is instead a beautiful dream when it comes to other OSs seems... at least compared with it).

And that things are open dont means that could not be signed, or have authoritative portals for that kind of 3rd party applications for those phones integrated with them by default (something like the applets for iGoogle page, or any linux distribution repository).

Re:Ben Worthen's Opinion (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251483)

There are a number of Viruses live for smartphones, though they largely target a single OS (not Windows Mobile actually). Scientific American did a peice on them a while back.

Grammar police (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251009)

I realize this is Slashdot and we consider ourselves lucky to have the article spelled correctly. However, this one is easy.

Google's US partners include Nextel and Sprint, but not AT&T nor Verizon
The rule is "Either-Or, Neither-Nor." You cannot have a nor without a neither. "Or" would have worked well in that sentence.

I hope this has been educational.

Love,
The Grammar Police

Boo (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251011)

It's still just a client device. Somehow I was hoping for a much bolder stroke from google, like if they'd bought up that new spectrum, thrown in their own fiber backbone, and used it to change the cellco/customer relationship fundamentally. So long as they're working through the same old networks, the US cellphone industry will stay pretty much as-is.

Re:Boo (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251179)

Somehow I was hoping for a much bolder stroke from google, like if they'd bought up that new spectrum, thrown in their own fiber backbone

Sorry, the IPO money is gone.

I for one... (5, Interesting)

MrLizardo (264289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251035)

...welcome our Android overlords.

Good. With that out of the way, I have to say I'm really looking forward to seing what Google can do in terms of getting functionality that has typically been the domain of "smartphones" that typically go for more than $200 w/ contract into the domain of phones that range from free to $50 (again w/ contract). With the minimum requirements set at an ARM9 @ 200MHz, this platform should allow open development on a huge new range of phones. I've already seen people earlier today making dire predictions about how Google is not going to be able to compete with the iPhone or how they prefer phones based on Symbian...and I think these people are completely missing Google's whole plan. I'm sure that initially phones based on Android will fall closer to the smartphone price range, but I can't help but think that eventually Google has to be aiming at the free-to-$50 phones. The "just a basic phone" market is an area in desperate need of a unifyied platform. Between lack of openness and the lack of a properly standardized Java implementation development for a wide range of low end phones is pretty much intractible. If Google can get Android onto low-cost phones *and* ensure "write once, run anywhere" between them I think they will have all the developer support they need. And since they already have the ears of the carriers (T-Mobile, Sprint, etc) they've already ensured they have a way to get this on shipping phones.

Why do I think low end phones are so important to these companies in the open handset alliance, when they don't have the profit margins of smartphones or "feature-phones"? Simple: Emerging markets. For billions of people around the world it is too expensive or impractical to own and maintain an Internet connected PC. It may be because of upfront cost or it may be a lack of Internet infrastructure in their area. For those people a phone will be their first (and maybe only) connection to the Internet. Right now the browsing experience on basic phones ranges from useless to unbearably slow and there is an impressive *lack* of easily accessible third party applications. If someone could change that it would add incredible value to that class of phones. So what's in it for Google? Making sure that their page is the first one a couple billion people see the first time they get on the Internet is probably worth it.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251125)

So I suppose instead of hot spots if you have a gPhone you look for gSpots....

Re:Obligatory (4, Funny)

GrievousMistake (880829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251183)

It will presumably have vibration functions, so sure, if you are a particulary Google-loving nerd girl you could indulge in that kind of... product placement.

open but for who? (3, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251193)

Google have been running (on a small scale) something conceptually similar in Japan with one of the major carriers -- KDDI -- for a while now. KDDI have integrated google search as the default search system, and google mail as one of the "official" mail options for that service. In effect there is a KDDI co-branded Google.

As far as I see it, Google mobile platform is the same thing inside an OS package. The platform will be "open" to carriers and makers who are participants of the Google alliance. However, nowhere in the Google materials have i seen a commitment to make the phone open to the outside developers. Nor does it make any sense for them to open it.

Depending on how it is rolled out, we may see some sources, but likely we'll never have a chance to apply a patch to the OS actually in the device, or build an application outside of whatever sandbox they put in the OS. There will likely be APIs and widgets tied to the google servers and services, but hardly much freedom beyond that.

Obviously that is very good for google, if they pull it off. It is less obviously good for the carriers or the makers, but the carriers will eventually agree to this in exchange for revenue-sharing, and because they have nowhere to go, and the makers will be arm-twisted by the carriers. The end result may be that only the "google internet" will be available on the mobile phones that use android. Sorta like an enhanced WAP, imode or EZ web.

I see no problem with this if one is very-very happy about storing their data on a google server and accessing it via the google phone OS. But I wouldn't call it free in any of the senses of that word we're accustomed to on /.

But I guess we'll see what it really is when they release the SDK.

Re:open but for who? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251607)

As far as I see it, Google mobile platform is the same thing inside an OS package. The platform will be "open" to carriers and makers who are participants of the Google alliance. However, nowhere in the Google materials have i seen a commitment to make the phone open to the outside developers. Nor does it make any sense for them to open it.

Depending on how it is rolled out, we may see some sources, but likely we'll never have a chance to apply a patch to the OS actually in the device, or build an application outside of whatever sandbox they put in the OS. There will likely be APIs and widgets tied to the google servers and services, but hardly much freedom beyond that.


Finding details has been frustrating, but it looks like they're going to open up the complete SDK to everyone, as open source.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/11/wheres-my-gphone.html [blogspot.com]
http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/android_overview.html [openhandsetalliance.com]

Wait until Nov 12 I guess.

Re:open but for who? (1)

boredhacker (1103107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251821)

I see no problem with this if one is very-very happy about storing their data on a google server and accessing it via the google phone OS. But I wouldn't call it free in any of the senses of that word we're accustomed to on /.

The gPhone platform (i.e. Android) will be "free" as in Apache v2 open source license, which is an OSI approved license. I would imagine many slashdotters are accustomed to this kind of freedom as well as other kinds of freedom like BSD, Mozilla, SPL, CPL, Artistic license and even Ms-PL (to name a few).

Quoting the FAQ [openhandsetalliance.com] :

Why did you pick the Apache v2 open source license?
Apache is a commercial-friendly open-source license. The Apache license allows manufacturers and mobile operators to innovate using the platform without the requirement to contribute those innovations back to the open-source community. Because these innovations and differentiated features can be kept proprietary, manufacturers and mobile operators are protected from the "viral infection" problem often associated with other licenses.

Re:open but for who? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251897)

Well, http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/android_overview.html [openhandsetalliance.com] says:

All applications are created equal
Android does not differentiate between the phone's core applications and third-party applications. They can all be built to have equal access to a phone's capabilities providing users with a broad spectrum of applications and services. With devices built on the Android Platform, users will be able to fully tailor the phone to their interests. They can swap out the phone's homescreen, the style of the dialer, or any of the applications. They can even instruct their phones to use their favorite photo viewing application to handle the viewing of all photos.


My understanding is that anyone will be able to write applications for Android and use them, without requiring any blessing.

Nor does it make any sense for them to open it.


I think it makes a lot of sense for Google to open it (ie. to allow third party developers like yourself to write software for Android), as it will make the platform far far more attractive than it would be otherwise, and I think Google really understands this.

Disclaimer: I work for Google.

ATT is OK (1, Informative)

dookiesan (600840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251215)

There is so much complaining about cell carriers, I feel that anyone who is happy with theirs must speak up for the sake of balance and perspective.

I signed on with Cingular maybe 4 or 5 years ago. I make phone calls and text messages with my phone and I've never had a problem with the company. I'm on my third phone and they've all worked very well and have nice interfaces (I admit the verizon interfaces look like sh*t though).

Whenever I've called with a problem customer service has been pretty helpful. I've never had a billing issue though I don't change my damn plan every other month either. I even broke my phone halfway through my contract due to my own fault (threw it against the wall), and they gave me a new one as long as I renewed.

What the F should I be doing with my phone? Somehow everyone here hates their cell carrier, but I've completely missed out on this bitchfest...and it would be great to join. You might complain about how expensive ringtones are, but how pathetic is it to even _want_ a custom ringtone ?! I wish that no one could even turn the ringer ON. (I can upload my own ringtones to the phone for free, btw). I might complain about how much they charge to send pictures (I can download those off the phone for free too), but it doesn't come up since I don't feel the need to constantly verify to my friends that I'm still ugly. Unfortunately coverage has actually improved quite a bit, so I can't complain about that as much either.

Won't take over the market overnight? (2, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251243)

I don't think they'll take over the mobile market overnight, either.  I think it'll take at least a few weeks.

After all, who would want an open standard phone where you can install your own software and not be charged a buck for a text message or a ringtone?  Who the fuck would want that?

Re:Won't take over the market overnight? (3, Insightful)

imemyself (757318) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251807)

There are already plenty of phones that you can install your own software on and not have to pay for ringtones (I can't believe that people are stupid enough to do that). For example, I have a Treo (Windows Mobile) - I can install any software I want on it, and easily create my own Compact .NET Framework apps for it if I want to - it doesn't have to be signed by the carrier or anything. I believe I can use any MP3 file as a ringtone, though I just use one of the MIDI's that came with it. Song ringtones annoy the hell out of me. Text messages aren't free - but that obviously has nothing to do with the phone and isn't going to ever happen. You'll always be paying a service provider for text messages - whether its per text, for unlimited text messages, or bundled in with some plan.

If Google is really successful it'll be because they are able to lower the price of smartphones from several hundred dollars to where the cheap toy phones (that don't let you install software/ringtones/etc) currently are. While I do not know how much of the cost of smartphones is for the OS, I highly doubt that a free OS will make smartphones that much cheaper. Maybe they'll subsidize some of the cost through AdSense or something, though I personally would hate to have a phone that forced me to look at ads.

More competition is a good thing though, at the very least it'll hopefully drive prices down a bit.

Smartphone OS licensing costs (1)

Rovaani (20023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21252013)

I couldn't find the cost for Windows Mobile but for Symbian it's as low as $2.50 (used to be up to $7.25).

(from http://www.symbian.com/news/pr/2006/pr20063401.html [symbian.com] )

For free ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251255)

If they can make it somehow that this phone is free and all revenue is driven by ads, current cellphone market is dead and everybody in droves will switch to gPhone or whatever it is called. If not but ad revenue takes of the monthly charge... pay 10$ for all you can call, that will kill the current cellphone market. If this is just another platform, no it will not take off. Market is saturated with all types of cellphones and carriers, there is nothing to distinguish this from that....

Sprint AND Nextel? (1)

duranaki (776224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251271)

Did you miss the whole Sprint buying Nextel thing? They are Sprint/Nextel. Is the point to list them twice so it seems like more wireless carriers are on board?

OpenMoko? (2, Interesting)

supine (94843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251281)

What does this mean for OpenMoko?

Re:OpenMoko? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251819)

What does this mean for OpenMoko?

As it stands I will still buy from them as soon as they put out a working phone with wifi. If google had a desktop linux distribution (say a google branded ubuntu) I doubt I would be using it. OTH new applications deployed on the google platform can only be good for other linux based phones.

I don't think it is going to hurt them, I just wish they would release something which works.

Phones using the google OS need not be more open than any other linux based phone.

Minor Correction (2, Informative)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251359)

"Google's US partners include Nextel and Sprint..."

Sprint and Nextel is one company. Sprint acquired Nextel.

Consider the Impact of Software Development (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251413)

Take a phone, stick in a 16gig ram chip; And you have a development environment that you can take anywhere. The Boss says, "Oh no! do not plug that thing into our network!", you say, "OK", and then email the solution to the boss, and yourself. Open platform implies that the bad guys can do some goofy things. But it also means that salvation is only a /. away. There is one problem, and that is time in between charges. Maybe a Solar Powered Charger, and I can finally develop,(software), at the beach! (memo to self, get the water proof gPhone)

Sounds vaguely familiar (2, Insightful)

tm2b (42473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251503)

I dunno... it really strikes me a lot like a number of the software standard alliances that Sun and the other Unix vendors tried to put together or participate in over the years. They always full apart because nobody's interests aligned in any lasting way and everybody had a bad case of NIH ("Not Invented Here").

I'm not saying none have worked, but I am asking honestly - how many technology projects with even half as many partners have actually succeeded in producing a stable platform? It seems to me that the truly successful open source projects have always been independent of any corporate interests - Linux succeeded in making a standard Unix-like platform where years of Dec / Sun / IBM / HP alliances failed and the business interests that have been successful with Linux have done so by learning to support efforts where there was already community leadership instead of trying to dictate a direction to the platform. Netscape did okay, I guess, but that wasn't a big business alliance and hasn't exactly been an exemplar of efficient platform production.

I'm just not seeing that this is a big deal, except that everybody thought that something much more exciting was actually going to happen.

Excellent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251571)

Not surprised Sprint is on the bandwagon. They've always been Google friendly and vice versa. Care to guess what mobile phone company had the first native releases of Gmail mobile and Google Maps mobile? This should be very interesting.

Hilarious - article updated by author (1)

Synonymous Bosch (957964) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251589)

"I've read through the comments and most people seem to think I'm saying something I wasn't trying to say. That's my fault for writing sloppy." You're writing for the Wall Street Journal but excuse yourself with "don't mind me, I'm a lousy journalist"?

Sorry buddy, that pony ain't gonna fly. You don't get where you are with sloppy writing, you don't get the luxury of that excuse.

"I'm an ignorant arsehole too lazy to actually write a proper piece for this rag"? Sure, I'd buy that.

Second half of 2008 great for vapor phones (3, Interesting)

gig (78408) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251593)

Both Nokia and Google have announced iPhone-killers and neither of them is going to ship one unit before the second half of 2008. Microsoft will need at least that long to shrink Surface down to the size of a Zune.

Nokia is promising touchscreens and multimedia and Google is promising open source and the Web. Like we already have in our iPods. And they're going to get that to us real soon now. Like in another year from now.

It shows how miserable Palm has become that Google didn't even buy them. Not even for the name.

Re:Second half of 2008 great for vapor phones (4, Informative)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251833)

Yeah, because Nokia - well, everyone knows they can't build a phone to save their life, right? Let's see. Camera: iPhone, 2MP, N95, 5MP. Storage: 8GB apiece. Web: iPhone, Safari. N95, based on Mozilla. Accelerometer (that 'gee whiz, doesn't every device need this' that fanboys rave about)? iPhone, check. N95, check. Display? iPhone, 320x480, touch sensitive, N95, 320x240, no touch.

Shall we continue? 3G? iPhone, uhh, no. N95, UMTS, HSDPA. GPS? iPhone, no, N95, yes. MMS? PTT? Ability to use your music as ringtone without paying money to the empire? Java? iPhone, no no no no no. N95, yes yes yes yes yes.

A few other neat features of my N95. Tethering? Oh so cool. Especially when your phone can act as a wireless access point. OpenGL hardware acceleration? Yes, you read me right.

But no mind, you just go on being a raving, frothing at the mouth Apple fanboy, oblivious to the RDF.

Somebody fire that guy (2, Interesting)

SirJorgelOfBorgel (897488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251623)

You will have to forgive me for it being 7 AM, I may not be as irrational as normal ;)

How did this guy get a job as writer for the "Business Technology" of "The Wall Street Journal" ? It's fairly obvious he doesn't know anything about technology. Open? I do not really expect the gPhone to be open to consumers like a linux PC is open to it's user. A bit more customizable then Windows Mobile, likely, but not anywhere near OpenMoko. The point it seems he is trying to make is that the phone is open in the way that everyone can make software for it. HTC makes devices running Windows Mobile I have absolutely no trouble writing applications for. And indeed, Windows Mobile isn't really open, but if you take a stroll down PPC hacker lane, you'll find that very little is sacred and most things (outside of normal application scope) are not that hard to tap into. It would not be difficult (at least for me, and I'm not a _seasoned_ WM developer) to write virus like or security breaching applications for those phones, and they've been around for what, 5 or 6 years now?

I guess (and purely a guess, as I haven't even been to the US) for you Americans the real problem is BlackBerry. It steals a lot of the thunder of the current top of the line mobile phones, because it offers similar functionality (be it in an outdated, obsolete and rediculously expensive way), but it is one of the dominant brands. Over here in Europe, where I live, carriers are nice, and everybody and their grandma has a WM-PPC; if not their primary pub-phone, then their work-related phone. I'd be surprised if 1 out of a 100 even ever heard of BlackBerry :)

In the context of TFA, there is nothing new or even relatively new to the gPhone. I would almost go as far as to say there is nothing 'new' about the gPhone at all - yeah, let's get a bunch of companies together and form and alliance with all the control, then call it open, while it probably isn't really open for end-users, just for the buzz-factor. It's not like we don't have enough 'open' mobile device alliances already. And Google really does seem to be becoming the new microsoft, it's eerie! I Not that I think Windows Mobile is the best thing since sliced bread, performance/power wise it's way lacking compared to Symbian, but nevertheless, it is a really nice platform.

Obligatory OpenMoko disclaimer; sure OpenMoko may be the shit, but the device simple doesn't fit my hardware needs. It's so horribly two years ago.

Carrier lock-out for sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21251707)

This won't help the poor consumer one bit. As long as the carriers force the handset producers (Motorola, LG, Samsung et al.) to "customize" (ie lock out) the features they dont want us to use (yet), we'll be in the same hell we've always been in.

The only way Google will change things is if they become a carrier and provide unlocked phones and then keep everyone happy by providing the best service and features.

I'm not saying it'll never happenm but I'm not holding my breath...

Open Source to Who? (1, Interesting)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251711)

Google definitly gets /. props for mentioning the "open source" buzzword, but my question is: open to who?

I think a lot of Google/Linux fanboys right now are probably foaming at the mouth with visions of linux running on a phone that they have root access to, installing apps whenever they want, downloading music for free, and giving the middle finger to the carriers.

I don't think that's what Google is doing here. I think Google is creating an "open source" operating system, open to the carriers to do what they want. In all likelihood, it will be "closed" by the time you get it. It will still be locked to the carrier, you'll still be charged for ringtones, and you will still need to buy an outrageous dataplan. I predict this will end up a lot like Symbian or Windows Mobile. The only difference being that there won't be a licensing fee to use it from Google. It may be Free As In Beer, but not to the consumer.

I don't think this deserves the "open source" moniker that we throw around here on /. At least, I haven't seen evidence of that yet.

That platform won't be open (4, Informative)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 6 years ago | (#21251979)

Sure, the platform will be open for the partners, but not for the developers.
First, look at the guys forming the "alliance": Broadcom, NVIDIA, Wind River, who are all acting towards closing linux (Wind River was even a vocal opponent to linux some times ago). Furthermore, look at why they choose Android's licence [openhandsetalliance.com] :

Why did you pick the Apache v2 open source license? Apache is a commercial-friendly open-source license. The Apache license allows manufacturers and mobile operators to innovate using the platform without the requirement to contribute those innovations back to the open-source community. Because these innovations and differentiated features can be kept proprietary, manufacturers and mobile operators are protected from the "viral infection" problem often associated with other licenses.

There. You can dream all you want about an open platform, like your traditional Fedora or Ubuntu desktop, but that won't be it. Go for Openmoko [openmoko.org] instead.

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