While the press and bloggers have been expecting Google to introduce a phone, the company has surprised everyone by announcing Android and the creation of the Open Handset Alliance. Rather than being a single device, Android is an open platform designed to run on many phones from many manufacturers. Google Director of Mobile Platforms Andy Rubin sums it up best on the Google Blog:
Android is the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. It includes an operating system, user-interface and applications -- all of the software to run a mobile phone, but without the proprietary obstacles that have hindered mobile innovation. We have developed Android in cooperation with the Open Handset Alliance, which consists of more than 30 technology and mobile leaders including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile. Through deep partnerships with carriers, device manufacturers, developers, and others, we hope to enable an open ecosystem for the mobile world by creating a standard, open mobile software platform. We think the result will ultimately be a better and faster pace for innovation that will give mobile customers unforeseen applications and capabilities.
In its Android announcement conference call, which was covered by Engadget, Google elaborated by saying it hoped Android would enable the creation of "thousands of 'Gphones'." Google also let slip that Android is Linux-based and that it has an "amazing" user interface. And after repeated probing about the "Gphone," Google CEO Eric Schimdt stated, "We're not announcing anything, but this is THE (perfect) platform for building a Gphone."
Google plans to release the Android developer toolkit on November 12, with the first Android-based handsets scheduled to become available in the second half of next year.