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The Android battling The Symbian Richard Seynfield | , 12:11 p.m. Feb. 23, 2008 2008-02-23

While Google's Open Handset Alliance (OHA) is expected to release their first Android based mobile sometime later this year, they didn't have much of a prototype to offer at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona quite yet. Only OHA member chip retailers Qualcomm and ARM were able to deliver their part of the story by rudimentary boards to present some performance and indicate the soon-to-be capabilities of a Google cell. OHA member Samsung even announced a delay in production for their Android based phones till 2009.

Welcome back to Reality

But even though mobile rivals may be smirking at OHA's start-up problems, real laughter is still miles away from sparking. For even though systems as Nokia's Symbian may be ahead in terms of production time and current market share, it is Android who has strong momentum on their side.

Thanks to Android's open software set up, it will allow practically any interested developer to come up with additional applications to run on their cells. A preview of what can be expected can be found in
the latest Android video blogs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FJHYqE0RDg and this is only supposed to be the beginning.

According to it's project documentation it's software development kit is to provide the following features:
- an application framework enabling reuse and replacement of components
- Dalvik virtual machine optimized for mobile devices
- an integrated browser based on the open source WebKit engine
- optimized graphics - powered by a custom 2D graphics library; 3D graphics based on the OpenGL ES 1.0 specification (hardware acceleration optional)
- SQLite for structured data storage
- media support for common audio, video, and still image formats (MPEG4, H.264, MP3, AAC, AMR, JPG, PNG, GIF)
- GSM Telephony (hardware dependent)
- Bluetooth, EDGE, 3G, and WiFi (hardware dependent)
- camera, GPS, compass, and accelerometer (hardware dependent)
- rich development environment - including a device emulator, tools for debugging, memory and performance profiling, and a plugin for the Eclipse IDE

Open versus Closed source

In a way does the looming Symbian-Android confrontation remind one of the classic Windows vs. Unix debate. Young gun open/free software facing off the old proprietary rights industry. Real open-source enthusiast may of course now argue that Android is not entirely free as some parts of it's software development kit still remain proprietary and closed sourced (such as the stripped off Java SE) - partly due to the fact that Google wishes to remain in control over the platform and it's development. But with the next best real open-source mobile platform concurrent OpenMoko being merely on the fringes of development and implementation, it is going to be Android to fly the free-software flag. And with the OHA's commercial power as support it can be expected that it won't take another 30 years to settle this battle. Regardless of their teething troubles.

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