Microsoft seems to be a company that imitates other companies that have great ideas. They imitated the Windows OS from Apple, tried to get market share in in the iPod/iTunes space (with the Zune product), and also tried to jump on the PDA bandwagon by producing a competitor (Pocket PC/Windows Mobile) with the Palm OS devices. Recently, Microsoft seems to be competing with Google to gain their success in the area of online advertisement via search engines and web-based applications. In fact, some people have joked with Bill Gates during interviews that he wouldn’t say the word “Google” as they were a prime target for Microsoft’s “innovation” plans.
In the area of cell phones, Microsoft did have a lead on other companies since their Windows Mobile OS was a perfect crossover product for the “Smartphone” (PDA/Phone) devices. Apple recently entered the phone arena with their iPhone product, which impressed the general community with their slick, highly graphical OS and applications. However, it seems that Google is trying to one-up Microsoft and Apple with their upcoming Android project, which will provide a new, free OS for modern Smartphone devices.
You can read more about Android at this link, and see various demo videos of the new OS. Google is planning to release the Android OS sometime in the 2nd half of 2008, and will be providing it as open-source. This means that users can download and install the OS at no-cost on their phone devices (provided that the cell phone service providers support such an OS installation). This will certainly throw a money wrench in Microsoft’s and Apple’s phone OS plans.
If you watch the Android demo videos, the OS looks very slick. The demos used a prototype device that had touch screen capabilities, which allowed the OS to operate much like the Apple iPhone. In addition, the applications that run under the Android OS are all written in Java, so we might see lots and lots of applications being produced by Java developers. So why is Google doing this? So they can display small ads and continue their highly successful advertisement campaign.
So, this is definitely something to keep an eye on if you’re a Smartphone or iPhone owner. I would think that soon, manufacturers will be creating a single handheld device that combines the functionality of a cell phone with WiFi for web browsing along with other PDA-like features and of course, an MP4/Video player like the Zune.