Brief History of the Android OS: Important Events, Launch Dates, and the Open Handset Alliance

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A Short History of Google Android

Android has made quite the progression from small start-up to owning a significant chunk of the mobile marketshare. Here’s a brief guide to the development of Android.

Google acquires Android, Inc.

Way back in 2005, Google bought Android, Inc., a teeny tiny startup company, based in Palo Alto, California. Some of the people who went over to work at Google were Rich Miner, the co-founder of Wildfire Communications, Andy Rubin, co-founder of Danger (a software services company), Chris White, and engineer at WebTV, and Nick Sears, the former VP of T-Mobile.

Rubin and his minions (I love calling them that. Sorry, guys.) began developing a Linux-based operating system for cell phones and other mobile devices. Their main marketing targets were handset makers and carriers. Their winning pitch? An easy operating system that was flexible and upgradeable at the same time.

In December 2006, rumors surfaced of Google’s entry into the cell phone market, soon followed by rumors of a new handset, branded by Google.

Open Handset Alliance is formed

On the 5th of November in 2007, several companies, including Google, HTC, Motorola, Intel, Qualcomm, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and NVIDIA, came together to form the Open Handset Alliance. They stated their goal for developing open standards for mobile devices, and unveiled their new product: Android, a mobile device platform built on the Linux kernel.

Android goes open-source

Android has been available as open-source software since October 2008. Under the Apache License, private companies could add on their own applications and extensions and sell them, without having to submit them to the open-source community (darn).

So, now you know how this amazing piece of technology came together. Next, we’ll talk about some phones that feature Google Android.

Hardware Products With Google Android

Believe it or not, there were quite a few hardware devices that ran Google Android, even before the T-Mobile G1. At the Mobile World Conference, held in February 2008, at least three cell phone prototypes were running simple Android applications. At the Google IO conference in May, a cellphone with a touch screen, Qualcomm processor, 256 MB of flash, and 128 MB of RAM was unveiled.

Then there’s the famous T-Mobile G1. It comes in three colors, and was pre-loaded with Android.

Openmoko, a phone company, announced that it would be implementing basic Android features into it’s phones, the Neo FreeRunner and the Neo 1973. The Kogan Arora and the Kogan Arora Pro (from Kogan Technologies), released January 29th, 2009, were pre-loaded with Android. Motorola was soon to follow.

What comes next? It’s safe to say that Apple sees Google as a serious contender in the mobile market, and they have many die-hard fans. What do you think of droid, and what do you anticipate coming next?

This post is part of the series: Google Android in Plain English

Understand the basic, and not so basic, functions and features of Google Android with this series of articles explaining the G1 platform it in simple terms. Google Android made easy!

  1. What is Google Android? Features of Android
  2. Google Android’s Internal Structure in Plain English
  3. History of Android: First Applications, Prototypes & Other Events