May 13, 2010
By Thursday morning the internet was abuzz with speculation that US carrier Verizon Wireless is collaborating with Google on the development of an iPad rival.
But this wasn’t some spurious rumour kick started by a tech blog, these words came from the mouth of Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam during an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Well, kind of. McAdam said that Verizon is working with Google on tablets, but more to see what Google has to offer that could really lift the internet tablet experience.
The Apple iPad already has competition from Android-based devices of the same, or similar, form factor – the Spring Design Alex to name but one. So the news that Verizon is looking at an Android-based tablet is hardly earth shattering. Especially in light of the appearance of the HTC Droid Incredible on the Verizon network last month.
What’s often forgotten is that Google and Android are two separate entities and it’s important for the industry to perceive them as such. At the moment much of the operator community’s fear (real or perceived) seems to stem from this idea that Google and Android are one and the same. True, Google owns Android the company, but Android the operating system is released and mainly developed by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) – an association of 60 plus companies of which Google is only one. The Android OS in its entirety is released under the Apache open source licence, allowing anyone to take the code and modify it without releasing the changes back to the community.
So Google’s own flavour of Android, as seen on the Nexus One, is really Google’s own OS under the same name, just as China Mobile’s OPhone platform is Android under a different name. If Verizon does release an Android powered tablet device, it doesn’t necessarily put Google in any position of power because it will likely be a Verizon customised or generic version of Android.
What does pitch Google against Apple, and Amazon as well, is the news that the web giant’s Google Editions e-book store is due to launch this summer. Not much is known about the initiative, except that it will be a browser-based offering, meaning the e-books purchased will not be restricted to a specific device, but could be viewed on any Android-based tablet, as well as phones, PCs, and e-readers and related devices such as the Kindle and iPad.
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