Here comes Android, the open source operating system that will break the corporate stranglehold on the wireless web, make it fun to surf from your cell, And (oh yeah) scoop up billions of dollars in mobile ads.
July 2008 (16.07) issue
By Daniel Roth
"Is this interesting to Google?" That's what Andy Rubin was asking Larry Page. It was a spring day in 2005, and the two were in a conference room just off the main lobby at Google's headquarters. A simple yes and Rubin would have walked away happy.
They had met three years before, when Rubin was about to launch a smartphone he'd invented called the Sidekick. At the time, Google was just an up-and-comer, trailing AOL and even Lycos in traffic. But Rubin, a well-known Silicon Valley player, chose Google as the Sidekick's default search engine. Page was flattered by the unexpected endorsement. So when Rubin called out of the blue and requested this meeting, well, Page couldn't say no.
The Google cofounder arrived late, as usual. Rubin walked to the whiteboard and began his pitch. There were nearly 700 million cell phones sold each year compared with fewer than 200 million PCs — and the gap was widening. Increasingly, he said, phones were the way people wanted to connect with each other and with everything else. Yet the mobile industry was stuck in the dark ages. Unlike the Web, where open standards had fostered a multitude of cool companies and applications, mobile was a tyrannical, closed system, repelling all innovators and disrupters who tried to gain entrance. (more)