Google recently announced its foray into the telecommunications space with Android, an operating system and software developer kit for mobile devices. I watched the video, which was fairly dry (and Sergey, you can afford a shirt with a collar), but I was missing the context and meaning of this announcement.
Over at Slate, Tim Wu has written a readable overview of what Android might mean to the staid telecoms industry in the US.
Nor is the problem of retailing Android phones trivial. Anyone with an Internet browser can use Google search or Gmail, but in the American mobile world the main barrier to market entry is reaching consumers. Today, more than 90 percent of Americans buy their wireless devices from their carriers. It is true, again, that Google has T-Mobile and Sprint provisionally on its side. But if only some outlets will sell a Gphone, fewer people will buy them.
Incidentally, I wasn’t super-interested in the subject matter, and abandoned it after a few episode, but I learned a lot about the early days of the telephone industry from Cory Doctorow’s reading of Bruce Sterling’s The Hacker Crackdown.