A large group of mobile-phone technology companies including Google, T-Mobile and Motorola today announced Android, an open platform for mobile phones and other mobile devices.

Google and the other companies have collaborated on the development of Android through the Open Handset Alliance, a group of technology and mobile industry leaders.

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"Today's announcement is more ambitious than any single 'Google Phone' that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks. Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models," said Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt

The Open Handset Alliance has been set up to push innovation on mobile devices. The idea is that by allowing developers to work more collaboratively, Android should accelerate the pace at which better, low-cost mobile services are made available to consumers. In turn, the companies involved in the Alliance will then benefit from increased traffic and revenues.

"This partnership will help unleash the potential of mobile technology for billions of users around the world. A fresh approach to fostering innovation in the mobile industry will help shape a new computing environment that will change the way people access and share information in the future," said Google's Schmidt. For more information about the Open Handset Alliance, visit the website at www.openhandsetalliance.com.

The Open Handset Alliance comprises 34 companies. The group see Android platform is the first step towards developing technologies that will lower the cost of developing and distributing mobile devices and services. It consists of an operating system, middleware, interface and applications. The first mobile phones based on Android should be available in the second half of 2008.

Next week the Alliance will release an early access software development kit. As the Android platform will be an open-source product, mobile operators and manufacturers will be able to use it as they see fit.

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"We see the Android platform as an exciting opportunity to launch robust wireless internet and Web 2.0 services for T-Mobile customers in the US and Europe in 2008," said René Obermann, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile.

While Ed Zander, Chairman and CEO of Motorola, said: "Motorola plans to leverage the Android platform to enable seamless, connected services and rich consumer experiences in future Motorola products."