The Linux-based Android mobile platform was developed by Google and is now supported by a consortium of companies called the Open Handset Alliance. Android is an open source platform meaning that developers are free to access the code and develop their own proprietary apps without submitting them to any controlling agency. The companies supporting Android include Motorola, HTC, Dell, Sony Ericsson and Toshiba.
And there is an Android App marketplace, with 20,00 apps and growing. Of course, this pales in comparison to the 100,000 + apps that will run on the Apple ecosystem comprising iPhone, iPad and iTouch.
Last year, Andrew Nusca blogged on ZDNet about a Gartner Research report, predicting that Android will take a 14% share of the smartphone market by 2012, overtaking Blackberry RIM, iPhone and Windows Mobile.
Huge excitement preceded the launch of the Google Nexus One, launched by Google but manufactured by the Taiwanese HTC Corp. The Nexus One packs a powerful 1 Ghz Snapdragon processor, 5 MP camera and best of all, seamless integration with Google Voice, so you can use it to make outbound calls and text messages. Read the review summary of different sites in this PC World article which will give you the good, the bad and the ugly. The bad news - the touch interface needs improvement and the call reception and 3G are patchy. I recall that iPhone too had such teething problems initially. But the device looks plain gorgeous (see the images below from engadget). The device retails unlocked at USD 530 and unfortuntely Google has no time frame to launch it in India.
But HTC is providing other Android based options in India. The HTC Incredible/Droid is expected to hit India by end April according to numerous blogs and Indian tech sites. The India price is not yet reported, but most likely it will be in the Rs.30000+ range. This phone is a step-up on the Nexus One with an 8 MP camera and dual LED flash, 8 GB + 32 GB (Micro SD slot) storage and the latest version of Android with a 'new and improved' touch interface. And yeah, it apparently multi-tasks easily. Read the Engadget review here. Clearly this is way better than the Nexus One, the HTC Legend (priced at Rs. 24500 in India) and the HTC Desire which is expected to be in the 30k range.
The phone also looks really cool - check these images from Engadget;
Sony Ericsson has already announced the launch of the Android based Xperia 10 in India according to Techtree. The pricing is reported at Rs. 35000 (ouch).
Finally take a look at the leaked images of Dell Android smartphones on Engadget. they are expected to come out by year end
What's the call on Android? Till now, the reports about it are mixed and the platform is clearly work in progress.Each new phone launch seems to be a huge improvement on the previous ones, as manufacturers play with different hardware and software configurations to squeeze the most out of the powerful Android OS. It seems worthwhile to take a wait and see stance on Android as of now.