More companies are adopting Google's Android mobile operating system and joining the Open Handset Alliance. Sony Ericsson is one of the more than a dozen new members, the alliance announced Tuesday.
"We believe Sony Ericsson can bring a wealth of experience in making consumer-focused multimedia handsets with new user experiences to the alliance, drawing on the successes of Walkman and Cyber-shot sub-brands," said Rikko Sakaguchi, Sony Ericsson's head of creation and development.
Sony Ericsson "will expand its portfolio strategy to include support for the OHA," said spokesperson Drew Crowell. "Among other things, this means that Sony Ericsson will develop a handset based on the Android platform."
A Big Fish
Bringing Sony to the table was a big move for Google, but it doesn't come without risk, according to analysts.
"By getting Sony Ericsson you now have one of the premier handset vendors -- a company noted for doing extremely beautiful designs now committing to bring an Android handset to market," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president of mobile devices for Jupitermedia. "The challenge that Google faces is going to be getting people to deliver on their promises."
"It is important and a powerful step to get people to sign on to the Open Handset Alliance, but at the end of the day they have signed on to a piece of paper and the real challenge is to get carriers and vendors to ship these devices and get these handsets on to carriers and into consumers' hands in 2009," Gartenberg added.
The alliance gained steam after releasing the first Android-powered smartphone along with carrier T-Mobile and maker HTC in September. And now it is gaining additional strength by adding companies such as Softbank Mobile, Teleca AB, Toshiba and Vodafone to its growing list of 47 members.
The new members will add Android devices, provide code to the Android open-source project, or support the Linux-based OS through products and services that will push the availability of Android-based devices.
Through its new relationship with the alliance, ARM, a provider of microprocessors and software, will contribute its ARMv6 and ARMv7 architecture-based OpenMax DL libraries and knowledge of the ARM CPU and GPU architectures, the company said.
As the alliance advances, it will face more competition.
"This is a very, very important move and it demonstrates clearly that Google is able to put together a powerful coalition and is now a powerful player -- granted, a player amongst others in the mobile space," Gartenberg said.
Because Google has demonstrated that Android is the most significant mobile Linux platform, Gartenberg added, Google has also brought on strong competition from the likes of Microsoft, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion, and Apple, maker of the iPhone 3G.
"There is a land grab going on here as everyone who has a platform to license is trying to get licensees and the developers and handset vendors on board," Gartenberg said.
"OHA is open to all comers, and of course the more momentum they achieve, the better," said Jack Gold, a technology analyst and chief executive of Jack Gold Associates. "The more companies that are involved, the better it is for OHA and Android. Google is ultimately the big winner if they get more vendors to ship Android-powered devices."
Gold added that companies who join get to say they endorse open platforms and standards. "Many of the member companies also support other platforms, including Symbian, Windows Mobile, iPhone and BlackBerry," he said. "So for most, this is not an exclusive deal, but an attempt to jump on a momentum bandwagon."