Google's Android Software Platform Makes Debut  

The first mobile phones fitted with Google's Android software platform made their debut at the Mobile World Congress.3GSM. Google launched Android last year, hoping to establish its software as the standard operating system for mobile phones and to improve the quality of web-browsing for handset users.

The idea is that Android will lead to radically improved functionality, notably for web browsing, meaning more people will use their mobile phones for Internet surfing and other applications.

Internet use on mobile phones can currently be a frustrating experience, with clunky software and slow download speeds.

Android is being developed by a coalition of 30 handset manufacturers, chip makers and software groups and is based on open-source code, meaning programmers are able to build compatible applications for free.

"The future ability of Android is exciting because it's open-source so it allows developers to come up with the next killer application," said a spokesman for US chip maker Texas Instruments, which demonstrated Android software in a prototype phone.

Android was on display for the first time in only prototype phones. The first handset for consumers from either Taiwan's HTC or US group Motorola is expected in the second half of this year.

Google announced the "Open Handset Alliance" in November last year to develop Android, including China Mobile, HTC, Intel, Motorola, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, Telefonica, LG and eBay.
Gartner's Milanesi stressed that "the road between a prototype and commercial handset is a long one" and said the ultimate test of Android's success would be how easily applications could be used.

The interest in a new software platform from Google also stems from the company's desire to establish its brand in emerging markets. Google surprised analysts when it unveiled Android last November. They had expected the Internet giant to announce the launch of its own Google-branded G-Phone to compete against Apple's popular iPhone.

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