Chip Maker ARM to Help Android Get a Leg Up

Google confirms that chip maker ARM will demonstrate the Android operating system on a prototype device at the upcoming Mobile World Congress.

ARM, whose chips power more than 90 percent of all mobile devices worldwide, plans to demonstrate a prototype mobile phone running Android's mobile operating system stack next week at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona.

A Google spokesperson told eWEEK Feb. 7 that ARM will be demonstrating Android on an early prototype device to show how the platform works on an ARM processor.

The spokesperson added that a number of other companies will be "demonstrating Android on their hardware in various forms at Mobile World Congress," but declined to say which firms or what forms their products would take.

Google released the open-source-based Android software in November to great fanfare-and a fair amount of skepticism from analysts, who said cracking into the mobile operating system market is every bit as challenging as writing reliable software.

Google's stated goal for Android is to create a mobile platform that makes surfing the Web from a smart phone as painless as surfing it from a PC. Android is expected to challenge the Symbian, Microsoft, Linux, Apple and Research In Motion operating systems, which command more than 90 percent of the worldwide market.

To support the platform launch and evangelize about the benefits of a new open-source mobile operating system, the search vendor teamed with T-Mobile, HTC, Motorola, Qualcomm and others to launch the Open Handset Alliance. Soon after, Google launched a software kit to let developers begin writing applications for Android.

Software maker A la Mobile introduced a suite of prototype applications for Android in January, but little has been heard out of the Android camp overall thus far. Buzz is building in anticipation of the Mobile World Congress Show Feb. 11-14, where cutting-edge devices and mobile applications make their debut.

A spokesperson for mobile phone manufacturer HTC said HTC will not show an Android device at the show, but said the company is still on track to ship a device with the Android platform in the second half of 2008.

A Qualcomm spokesperson said the company will show "different applications and functionality running on Android" on prototype devices.

Spokespeople for Open Handset Alliance members Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile USA, and Motorola did not respond to questions about what, if anything, their companies will be showing off involving Android at Mobile World Congress.

Even as supporters prime the pump in support of Android, Google is locked in battle with AT&T and Verizon, all of which are bidding for a block of 700MHz spectrum that might be used to build out expansive wireless networks.

Google is also rumored to be partnering with Dell to create a Google-branded phone.