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Android struggles to life

New platform, old handset

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Linux specialists a la Mobile has demonstrated Google's Android platform running on a mobile phone handset, an HTC Qtek 9090, and explained how a development house might make money from Android.

Getting the Android code to execute on a handset is technically challenging. Even though Boston-based a la Mobile was beaten to the demonstration by a lone hacker it's still an impressive achievement. But a la Mobile's done more than just getting Android to execute - they've also created the applications needed to make the device usable as a mobile phone.

Android might be free, but the suite of applications needed to make a phone into a phone were never part of the Android package. The expectation has been that third-party companies would spring up to supply those, but until now there has been little evidence of that.

a la Mobile was set up in 2005, and developed its own Linux-based mobile phone platform. The company reckons that by using the applications developed for that platform on Android, they can halve the time to market for an Android handset.

The question of who is going to be making that Android handset remains open. Demonstrations of the platform on three-year-old handsets are all very impressive, but without support from a major hardware manufacturer Android isn't going to be living for long. ®

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