Google's Open Handset Alliance gains 14 new members

New members, including Vodafone, have joined the organization aimed at further developing the Android operating system.

The Open Handset Alliance, which promotes the use of Google's Android mobile operating system, added 14 new members this week, including Vodafone, the world's largest mobile operator.

Open Handset Alliance

In addition to Vodafone, new members of the alliance are AKM Semiconductor, ARM, ASUSTek Computer, Atheros Communications, Borqs, Ericsson, Garmin International, Huawei Technologies, Omron Software, Softbank Mobile, Sony Ericsson, Teleca, and Toshiba.

Members in the alliance are expected to either "deploy compatible Android devices, contribute significant code to the Android Open Source Project, or support the ecosystem through products and services that will accelerate the availability of Android-based devices," according to the alliance's press release.

Google started the alliance a year ago when it officially unveiled Android, the open source operating system it created. The Android software is designed to provide handset makers and wireless operators an open platform on which they can develop new and innovative applications.

The alliance was formed to help support the creation of these applications, resulting in richer features that are less expensive to develop and deploy. Thirty-four companies initially signed on to the alliance. And now the group boasts 47 members.

Nearly all the major handset makers have signed on, including HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung. U.S. wireless operators T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel are also members. Neither AT&T nor Verizon Wireless is an Open Handset Alliance member. But Verizon has said an Android phone could find its way onto its new open wireless network, which offers a more streamlined certification process.

T-Mobile and HTC announced in October the G1 , the first phone to use the Android operating system. And more handsets are expected to come on the market from a variety of handset makers in 2009.

Adding new members to the alliance should help boost Android's presence in the mobile market. But the operating system has a long way to go in terms of gaining significant market share. Nokia's Symbian operating system still dominates the global market. And Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry operating systems are becoming tough competitors in the smartphone category.

 

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