Google’s competitors in the mobile space are talking tough about not being concerned with the company’s Open Handset Alliance. The most obvious competitors are Symbian and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) — MS pointed out that they have been in the mobile software business for five years, and Scott Horn, general manager of marketing at Microsoft’s Windows Mobile business said “I don’t understand the impact that they are going to have”, reports Reuters (cue jokes about Microsoft not understanding open software). John Forsyth, Symbian’s strategy chief, said they wouldn’t underestimate Google (NSDQ: GOOG) but that “we have been going nine years and have probably seen a dozen new platforms come in and tell us we are under attack”. UIQ took the “it’s positive because it’s a sign the mobile industry is ready to step up a gear” line. Nokia (NYSE: NOK) (absent from the partners list) is also quoted, which would be misplaced except for the big push into mobile services. However, Nokia is keen to get those services working on as many phones as possible and will adjust for Google’s OS if it gets marketshare. And I know Nokia has a large chunk of Symbian, but that’s more to ensure it has a decent OS than as the core of its business.
Fragmentation: One issue that has come up a fair bit is fragmentation. “We have seen several attempts to create some sort of standard out of Linux … but Linux is fundamentally fragmentary,” said Forsythe. “Linux is unmanaged and unmanageable. If Google was not involved the industry would have just yawned and rolled over.” Over at InformationWeek the same concern was raised: “Now, let’s drill down to the issue of mobile linux. As I pointed out last month there are roughly 22 varieties of mobile linux in the market (23 or more if you count Android). If Google’s ToS are really as open as they claimed during the conference today, we could soon see 1,022 varieties of mobile linux in the next two years.”
Marketshare: Strategy Analytics has already come out and said Google will get 2 percent of the OS market for smartphones in 2008. They seem to be basing this on Google’s brand strength, but the number of handset and carrier partners in the Open Handset Alliance probably helped the prediction. (release)