Google Gains Momentum beyond Mobile

5/12/2011

It has been a momentous few days for Google, www.google.com, whose 2011 “I/O” developers conference wrapped up yesterday in San Francisco. Google I/O brought together an estimated 5,500 developers to help build the next generation of Web, mobile, and enterprise applications. Announcements that came out of the event suggest we can expect to see some new and innovative developments from this industry giant.

According to the company’s Android team, the OS has made some great headway since its launch less than three years ago. Google says there are now 100 million Android devices, with 400,000 new activations on a daily basis. In fact, recent research says Android has surpassed RIM’s, www.researchinmotion.com, BlackBerry to become the No.1 platform.

Google also says there are now more than 200,000 applications in its Android Market, but it doesn’t plan on stopping here. Earlier this week, the company announced the next version of its operating system: Ice Cream Sandwich. The ultimate goal, Google’s official blog says, is to deliver an OS that works everywhere, regardless of the device. Upon release (reportedly in Q4), the yummy-sounding new version is already being called Android’s most ambitious launch yet.


Ice Cream Sandwich will not only be for smartphones, but for tablets, too. In fact, Google’s blog says Android was designed from the beginning for more than just mobile phones. Therefore, another announcement out of I/O was an initiative called Android@Home—which will allow Android apps to discover, connect, and communicate with appliances and devices throughout your home.

Other announcements this week include: “Android Open Accessory” to help developers build hardware accessories that will work across all Android devices; a Music Beta service that will allow users to upload personal music collections to the cloud and stream to a computer or Android device; and movies for rent in the Android Market (starting at $1.99).

But Google is not just inwardly focused when it comes to furthering innovation. On Monday it announced it is partnering with the likes of Verizon, HTC, Samsung, Sprint, Sony Ericsson, LG, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Motorola, and AT&T, to adopt guidelines for how quickly devices are updated after a new platform release, and for how long they will continue to be updated.

Lastly, yesterday Google and its partners—Samsung, www.samsung.com, and Acer, www.acer.com —“Chromebook,” a notebook-like device built for Web applications. Chromebooks boot in just eight seconds, because there is no desktop to load. The device is always connected via built-in Wi-Fi and optional 3G. 3G models include 100 MB per month of mobile data for free from Verizon Wireless, www.verizonwireless.com.

Chromebooks are built around Google’s Chrome Web browser; documents, photos, and everything else stored on a typical laptop can be stored in the cloud. The new devices are expected to become available as early as next month.

Coming out of its I/O event, Google is making moves in more than one key area in the connected-device arena. While it is often lauded for launching a mobile OS capable of competing with Apple and RIM, it seems Google has its sights set on a bigger picture.



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