A report published in The New York Times says network operator Deutsche Telekom’s U.S. subsidiary, T-Mobile USA, is planning to move more of its communication devices over to Google’s open source operating system, Android, built for mobile phones. Last year, the company debuted the first smartphone to use Android software, the Dream, with hardware produced by HTC.
The Dream, part of an open standards effort of the Open Handset Alliance (Google, T-Mobile and HTC are all members), has since been joined by other Google-powered mobiles, with many other companies, including computer maker Lenovo, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and Acer. In September 2008, Motorola also confirmed that it was working on hardware products that would run Android. T-Mobile, it seems, is looking to move around the platform.
The Times reports T-Mobile spokesman Peter Dobrow, who declined to discuss specific products, said the company has “several devices” planned for Android. Confidential documents obtained by the Times reveal T-Mobile is planning to release a home telephone running on Android early next year, followed by a tablet computer.
Although T-Mobile isn’t the only telecom company interested in running mobiles and smartphones on Android, the company’s plan to use the platform on PCs and home phones suggests a broadening of acceptance in the way open source software is viewed. T-Mobile’s decision to adopt the platform, which operators Verizon and AT&T (the two largest) have so far ignored, may help pave the way for an increasingly accepted, if largely untested, format.
Companies from Samsung to China’s Huawei Technologies are actively pursuing Android-based products this year. In an interview with Forbes at the CTIA Wireless trade show, Samsung’s executive vice president of global product strategy, Dr. Won-Pyo Hong, said the company has an international model ready for release in June, as well as two handsets bound for the United States.
Last week, Hewlett-Packard caused a stir by admitting the firm, the world’s largest technology company was “looking” at Android, a Linux-based platform, for its PCs and mobile phones. HP was quick to point out the company might select another operating system. “We want to assess the capability Android may have for the computer and communications industries, so we are studying it,” HP’s PC division vice president Satjiv Chachil told The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday.
The move to Android’s free, open-source software from Microsoft’s proprietary Windows software (from which Microsoft derives 60 percent of its revenue is a potential challenge for the software giant, especially as companies look to cut costs and offer consumers lower prices. This trend toward open-source software has been particularly prevalent on netbooks, smaller, cheaper laptops that market for around $500.
HP has been quietly exploring alternative software options since at least September, when the company acknowledged it had assembled a group of engineers to develop software that will let customers bypass certain features of Vista. HP has also dabbled in Linux, an open-source operating system, with its Mini 1000 Mi Edition netbook.