Google's Android to power open-source phones

Google has unveiled its much-awaited open source handset platform, backed by an alliance of 34 manufacturers, operators and developers.

The platform, Android, will be the world's first open source mobile phone operating system, Google said.

A toolkit will be released next week and the first phones will be available in the second half of 2008.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt says that the Android was 'more ambitious than any single 'Google Phone' that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks. Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models.'

Google said the members of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) would develop technologies that would lower the cost of mobile devices and services. Android, which is the first step in this direction, will comprise a mobile software stack with an operating system, middleware, users interface and applications.

As an open-source mobile operating system, Android will be pitched directly against Nokia's Symbian, Microsoft Mobile and the Palm OS.

Google has also enlisted support from key Asian firms - operators China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, Taiwanese OEM HTC and Korean handset-maker LG.