With questions swirling about the viability of Google's Android mobile operating system, startup A la Mobile on Jan. 14 released a stack of applications designed to run on the open-source OS.
The prototype suite of applications includes a browser, phone dialer for voice calls, audio player, maps, camera, calendar, contacts manager, calculator, tasks manager and notes based on Android.
Designed to run on HTC's Qtek 9090 smart phone, the software suite is the first public demonstration of applications based on the Android framework, which Google introduced Nov. 5 to both fanfare and skepticism.
Google released an SDK (software development kit), based on the Linux 2.6 kernel, on Nov. 12 to let programmers begin playing with the software.
When early reports emerged that developers working with Android were having difficulty using the software, and prototype applications based on the platform failed to emerge by December, critics rushed to question the viability of the platform.
A la Mobile President and CEO Pauline Lo Alker acknowledged in a statement that while Android validates Linux as a "major mobile OS alongside Windows Mobile and Symbian, many questions remain concerning the technical details, and skepticism exists concerning its readiness."
Alker said A la Mobile's Android applications are geared to show that Android is a viable platform that takes the burden of building a customizable Linux stack off of handset makers.
Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle said A la Mobile's news is a positive development, and that critics shouldn't rush to judge Android so soon.
"Recall that at this time last year Apple had an iPhone prototype that was basically a brick," Enderle told eWEEK Jan. 14. "On paper, Google is actually ahead of where Apple was this time last year and, on tools, is actually amazingly close to where Apple is this year."
Ultimately, while Android may have a long way to go to even come close to the market share of Symbian or Windows Mobile, the mobile market is measured in months and years, so it may have time to achieve success.
Users will be able to procure the entire Android platform under the Apache Version 2 open-source license in 2008.
It is no surprise that HTC is A la Mobile's handset maker of choice for the Android apps; HTC is one of the 34 companies in Google's Open Handset Coalition, which aims to create wireless phones based on Linux.
HTC was also widely rumored to have created prototypes of an actual Google-branded phone, which looked similar to Apple's popular iPhone.