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Do androids dream of an open OS?

FCC welcomes, Nokia interested, Ericsson turns down

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As the reality of Google's Android mobile phone operating system starts to sink in, the industry is asking those not involved in the Open Handset Alliance why they decided to stay away.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin threw his support behind Android yesterday, saying in a statement: "I continue to believe that more openness, at the network, device, or application level, helps foster innovation and enhances consumers' freedom and choice in purchasing wireless service."

Google matters a lot in the USA, and to the FCC thanks to the interest it's shown in the upcoming 700MHz auction. In Europe, Nokia's opinion is considered more important.

Kari Tuutti, of Nokia's multimedia unit, told Reuters that membership of the alliance is "not ruled out at all. If we would see this as beneficial we would think about taking part in it".

But Nokia has an enormous investment in Symbian, not to mention its own Linux project.

Ericsson certainly can't see the point in Android, telling Pocket-Lint that "we had a number of horses we could back and UIQ was the one we chose" - a strange comparison as UIQ is a graphical interface and application layer, and while Android may well have such a layer it's pitched to compete below the space where UIQ lives: against Symbian.

It's not easy to tell what Android does consist of. Details of the GUI, surely the most important part of a handset these days, aren't available and we don't even know what security or capabilities the platform will have beyond some woolly stuff about it being all things to all people.

So for companies to be so wholeheartedly supporting, or dismissing, the platform seems naive. Until we see some real lines of code (as we will be able to), or some devices, the clever money will wait and see what happens. ®

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