LONDON Google Inc. has finally taken the wraps off its long rumored ambitions in the mobile phone space, announcing a wide ranging alliance with 33 companies that includes handset makers, chip suppliers and carriers to create low cost phones based on the Linux open source OS.
Dubbed the Android, the software technology is expected to lead to faster development of iphones than is possible with current platforms, said the alliance.
The software aims to make it easier to develop mobile services and to target consumers with adverts.
Google is working with four mobile manufacturers Samsung, HTC, Motorola and LG but there will not be a Google brand phone as such.
The first phones using the Google will be available in the second half of next year.
"This is going to bring the internet into cell phones in a very cool way," Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms. Rubin's firm, also called Android, was bought by Google in 2005 and the software it developed forms the basis of the new stack.
Other members of the so called Open Handset Alliance include almost all the leading chip makers for mobile phones, such as Texas Instruments, Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm,SiRF Technology, Marvell Technology Group, and Nvidia.
Other partners include real-time software developer Wind River Systems, PacketVideo, Esmertec, and NMS Communications Inc.
Network partners include Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S, China Mobile, Spain's Telefonica and its subsidiaries such as 02 in Europe as well as T-Mobile in Germany and Telecom Italia, and NTT DoCoMo and KDDI in Japan.
The move is seen as a major competition to Microsoft and Symbian, who make the leading software systems for mobiles currently. The Google software will be provided to handset makers free of charge and could lead to a price war for operating system licenses and potentially cheaper handsets.
"Today's announcement is more ambitious than any single Google Phone that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks," said Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO.
There have been many reports of a so-called Google phone in recent months.
"Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models," added Schmidt.
Later this month, the alliance plans to make available the software developers kit needed by third-party programmers.
But Rubin stressed the core technology itself will not be made available under an open-source license until it is commercially ready sometime next year.
Rubin also said that in time, the technology being developed could be used in other portable devices, including small hand-held computers and car navigation systems.