Google Inc. on Monday lifted the shroud cloaking its long-rumored plans to enter the mobile phone market, saying it was building software to make the Internet run more easily on cellphones.
The Internet giant confirmed it was working with 30 companies, including some of the world’s biggest handset makers and wireless service providers, such as U.S. phone makers Motorola Inc and Qualcomm Inc Taiwan’s High Tech Computer and German-based carrier T-Mobile.
Google is looking to expand the range of Internet services it now offers through computer browsers to the far larger mobile phone market, where a range of conflicting handset designs and software standards have hobbled Internet use.
“It will open the mobile phone to do things that people now do on their PCs,” said Todd Greenwald, a financial analyst with Nollenberger Capital Partners in San Francisco.
“This approach is going to be far less costly,” Greenwald said, contrasting Google’s open partnership to proprietary phone industry strategies. “It should position Google to be an early leader in the mobile advertising market.”
Google said it would hold a conference later to discuss the system with speakers from T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom, Motorola, and Qualcomm.
The Mountain View, California-based company has set up an industry consortium it calls the Open Handset Alliance and signed up 30 member companies, it said.
It said the software system, known as Android, would be “the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices.”
Android was the name of a small start-up Google acquired in 2005 that was founded by Andy Rubin, a veteran Silicon Valley gadget designer, who earlier this decade created the innovative “Sidekick” mobile Internet device while at start-up Danger Inc.Sprint Nextel Corp, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service and a member of the alliance, said the system will be based on open-source Linux code and available to phone makers and carriers without license fees.
It is expected to support applications from different developers as well as Google Web search, e-mail and mapping, according to Sprint.
Sprint said it had not committed to putting the software on its phones but was in negotiations with Google about financial terms with a view to offering the system to its customers eventually. Sprint did not give a time frame.
John Garcia, Sprint senior vice president for product management, said an agreement between Google and Sprint could cover everything from delivering mobile ads to putting Google’s brand on phones designed especially to support its operating system.
“Rather than trying to restrict customers and saying you can only use my services, which we think has limited growth potential, we’d rather give customers exactly what they want and benefit that way,” said Garcia.
Google shares were up 2.3 percent, or $16.65, to $727.68 on Nasdaq.