Google Android prototypes debut at MWC

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Google’s much talked about mobile platform “Android” was demonstrated in prototype form at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain this weekend through a handful of chip makers including ARM, Marvell, Qualcomm, NEC, Texas Instruments and ST Microelectronics.

At least in the case of ARM’s demonstration, consisting of Android-based phone running on a two-generation-old ARM 9 core, few here were impressed. The demo phone hardly brings anything new to the table, offering a number of now-standard features including Internet browsing, texting and calendaring functions.

Nevertheless, ARM believes that it’s not so much what Android allows cell phone users to do, but rather what it doesn’t require chip and device makers to do, as they’ll have access to an open source application framework to develop a range of Android-based phones without having to start from scratch on software development. Whatever functionality handset vendors decide to build on top of Android should be entirely up to them.

That’s why the chip makers’ efforts at the MWC largely appeared to be geared toward enticing handset vendors with snappy chips rather than touting the advancements of the software itself. Nonetheless, the demonstrations gave industry watchers their first taste of Google’s hotly anticipated efforts in the handset business.

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