Whatever Happened to the Alliance?
I think it's fair to say that most mobile phone users, whether Android fans or not, are unlikely to have even heard of the Open Handset Alliance. To most of us, what the Alliance stands for has simply become Android. No longer does it need to be prefixed by Google, when we hear Android now we think smartphone not C3PO.
But does it really mean anything any longer? Isn't the battle now won to a certain extent. Google Android has a significant share of the mobile phone market (around 36 percent), and is widely tipped to become the Top of the Pops in little over a year.
Many of the members in the Alliance now overlay their own UI onto the Android operating system anyway, such as HTC's Sense, Samsung's TouchWiz and Motorola's MotoBlur. While it's true to say some of these UIs aren't as successful as others (Hello Moto), it does rather betray the united front of using one OS. While essentially the handsets of these manufacturer's do all run Android, and I'd be just as at home using my friend's HTC Desire as I would be playing around on my Galaxy S2, they are certainly different. Maybe that's the point of Android after all though, as they promote it as being multilayered and to enable the user to have it "their way". But where does that leave the Alliance?
Taking the same example of the manufacturer's individual UI layers, it's also interesting to note that most of these (notably the Sense UI), have been made without pushing the code back to the Alliance. One of the key points of the Open Source Project (an intrinsic part of the Alliance and what it stands for) is that code can be modified and then shared with others. So does being in the Alliance even mean anything?