RealTime IT News

Android's Open Handset Alliance Members Surge

Android

T-Mobile's G1 smartphone may soon have company in the market for Android-powered mobile phones.

Today, the Open Handset Alliance, the Google-backed group driving adoption of the Android open source platform for mobile, announced 14 new members.

The list includes a few high profile players (Ericsson, Garmin International, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba Corporation and Vodafone) as well as chip companies (AKM Semiconductor, ARM), and others that are more likely contributors to Android manufacturers than device makers themselves.

Analyst Maribel Lopez noted that, while the jury is still out on Android, companies such as Sony Ericson are hedging their bets by joining the alliance. "No one can predict how big it's going to be, but no one wants to be left out of the Android party," Lopez, principal of Lopez Research, told InternetNews.com.

While the OHA hopes to spawn a broad ecosystem of devices for many mobile needs, similar to Windows Mobile and others, Apple's approach is different. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) keeps its development plans secret and, for now, essentially offers only one device with two different storage configurations.

"I think there is room in the industry for both," Lopez said of the two models. "Consumers are about choice. There will not be just one device or one way of accessing content," she said. "So the issue is who wins the most customers and that is about who gets 1) the broadest range of apps and 2) the easiest way to access them."

On those two points, the iPhone has the early lead. In October, Apple reported there have been over 200 million downloads of iPhone applications at the company's App Store. Apple alsio recently announced there are now over 10,000 applications available for the device.

On the Android front, earlier this month, an Australian company called Kogan, announced it plans to offer an Android-based phone by late January. A photo and specs are available here.

In addition to today's announcement, the OHA membership includes developers, chip suppliers and mobile vendors including HTC, Intel, Nvidia, Motorola, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile among others.

"New members will either deploy compatible Android devices, contribute significant code to the Android Open Source Project, or support the ecosystem through products and services that will accelerate the availability of Android-based devices," the OHA said in a release.