Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2010 Issue

Google takes on Baskin Robins?

Froyo!


By Tom McKinney

Earlier this month, Google announced Froyo. Yes, you heard it here first! Google is getting into the frozen yogurt industry, but I kid. Froyo is the codename for Google's forthcoming update to their Android mobile operating system. This will be version 2.2. Before I get into the potential groundbreaking this update could bring, let me bring you up to speed with Google and its mobile products.

Android was first announced on November 5, 2007, alongside the founding of the Open Handset Alliance - a coalition of 65 hardware, software, and telecom companies, all with the goal of advancing open standards for mobile devices. Less than a year after that first announcement, the first phone to run Android was released. The day preceding the hardware's release, Google made the system's code available as open source, and has been available since then.

Google's Android is often compared to Apple's iPhone. One of Android's first major carriers in the US was Verizon, and their teaser ad at the time of the first release was actually a parody of Apple ads. The two companies differ in their approaches, however.

Apple, as is their way, designs both hardware and software. Their software is not open source. And it has rules that limit content in their App Store, the one place to get apps unless your iPhone is jailbroken (hacked).

Google, for the most part, designs software, a la Microsoft, and then sells the software to a variety of third party hardware companies. They have made their own Google-branded handset, known as the Google Nexus One, but it did not enjoy the success hoped for. A second Google Nexus phone has been discussed and rumored but not revealed.

Both companies have been very successful with their efforts on the mobile front. Apple has a strong product line ranging from the iPhone to iPod Touch to iPad. And Google meanwhile, has been making headlines. It started first with a report by NPD that gave Fortune Magazine motivation to entitle an article, "Android demolishing iPhone in sales." Then, it held it's Google I/O conference in San Francisco, and announced a few things: the creation of a new open-source, royalty-free video file format, known as the WebM Project; plans to work with Sony to bring Google to TV; and of course, Android 2.2, Froyo.

Rare Book Monthly

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