Eric Schmidt was asked what he saw as the next big thing in technology: "Mobile, mobile, mobile—it's probably the most wide open space out there right now."[]

Wearing in-line rollerblades, flaunting their usual junior-high hair cuts, Larry and Sergey stepped out in front of the New York media in the fall of 2008 to introduce Google's long-awaited G1 phone, a handheld multitasking device that competes with Apple's iPhone (for which, not surprisingly, Google provides some software). Google itself brought out the first G1 Android phone but also is franchising the technology to T-Mobile, Sony Ericsson, and other phone companies that wish to market it.

The mobile-phone market is highly competitive and crowded with such weighty players as Research in Motion Ltd., Nokia, Qualcomm, and Apple. Google is a latecomer into the phone software market, but Google goes where the money is. The large number of combatants on the field isn't a problem for them, since Google has the cash to hold on until competition and the economy sort themselves out.

What is an android? It is a robot that resembles a human, generally both in appearance and behavior. Android also is the given name of the platform on which Google built its G1 phone. Google's Android is a powerful pocket computer, the first complete, open, and free mobile-device platform.

Google did not create Android. It acquired the company in 2005, heralding Google's entry into the mobile-software market. It then turned Android ...

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