@ Mobilize: Google’s Rich Miner Says Openness Is The Tipping Point For Mobile


It seems like the leader of *Google’s* Android development Rich Miner would have something better to do five days before its first phone is unveiled by T-Mobile USA, but he was able to carve out 30 minutes of his time to address the crowd at Mobilize. Miner, who calls himself a serial entrepreneur, who has spent time at operators like Orange, and is now at Google (NSDQ: GOOG), kicked off by exclaiming what a difference a year makes. “It was a pretty different world, and things are changing pretty fast now.” The one underlying theme that’s changing the industry, he said is the concept of openness: “This whole concept of openness is adding some accelerant to the industry. There’s openness in the platforms, like Android, and there’s openness in walled gardens vs. being able to go anywhere you want and there’s openness to spectrum in being able to have broadband wherever you go.”

How bad was the industry?: “Orange was the first mobile phone operator to launch Windows Mobile. I’m not picking on *Microsoft*, but it was an interesting story. And, we were the only carrier to launch Windows Mobile. I had to bundle features into the platform that we didn’t want to (like MSN IM), and then there was a bug that prevented our push to talk service to not work, and it was going to take 18 months to get a patch. That’s when I said, this is what the industry considers open? I was also working with the venture arm. We would invest in an app, and then we’d watch the nearly impossible task of going to several countries and the hundreds of people who had to say yes. I became pessimistic as a developer — I didn’t know how they could succeed. ”

A present-day reason for Android: “Let’s say you are very familiar with Google Maps, and I think it’s one of the best apps in my entire history in mobile, and I use it all the time. But then, you go to the address book where you have an address, and you can’t open it up in the application — the connections aren’t there.” The other reasons he sees as reasons for Android are very familiar sounding: small screens and keypads, complexity and poor user experience.

Android overview: “It’s an open-source platform and is part of the Open Handset Alliance, which includes semiconductors, handset manufacturers, software companies and carriers. The technology is based on Linux, and there’s a software stack layered on to it. We have Linux but it’s a thin veneer at the bottom. On top of that, we have support for databases, etc., and then we want to have applications using the Java programming, which has a virtual machine. It’s not your daddy’s Java. It provides a rich environment, and it uses the same frameworks — so you have access to the address book, the dialer, camera, IM, Alarm, Calculator, etc. An important thing here, all of this is going to be open-sourced around the time we release the first handsets, so therefore not only will the partners have access to codes, and available to developers…I believe Universities and others and other handset OEMs and ODMs will adopt it.

How different is Android?: “It’s built as a contemporary platform. There’s not a lot of legacy. We also didn’t do this as many industry consortiums do, where you decide who will build what technology. We picked best in class. I wanted the best speech recognition, I went to Nuance, etc…This allowed us to engineer on strict time schedules. But ultimately no one party will control this platform…Google has had a heavy hand in this, but it’s all open source. If *Yahoo* wants to build a phone on top of it, more power to them. If they can build a better phone than we can, more power to them.”



It's great to see open source come to the mobile platform. However, it will take years for Android or iPhone to cover a significant percentage of the global phone market. By that time web content will be king.

Phil Gault

It's Friday, so forgive me for being frivolous.

I just thought it's superbly appropriate for a senior Google staffer to be called Rich Miner !

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