Android and the opening of the mobile world
[ Special report: All about Google's Android | Test Center review: T-Mobile's Android-based G1 | Slideshow: A guided tour of the G1 ]
When executives from T-Mobile, Google, and HTC took the stage in September at a sleek Manhattan restaurant to unveil the G1 -- probably the most long-awaited product of the year -- they also marked a milestone in a changing mobile world. While the design of Apple's iPhone still ranks No. 1 among phone aficionados, the G1 brings a new, open business model to the mobile device world. Google has stressed that the open source Android platform will let developers build applications to run on multiple devices and networks. There is no assurance this will actually happen, but the Android concept, and its execution, is more open than what Apple has done so far. The Android developer kit is free and any application can be added to the Android application store. Meanwhile, Symbian, the platform which has the largest market share, was opened up midyear, and the LiMo mobile Linux group has a loyal membership. Mobile communications will never be the same.
Format wars revisited: Blu-ray beats HD DVD
Toshiba announced in February that it would discontinue its HD DVD products, handing victory to Sony and rival high definition disc format Blu-ray. The move ended an epic standards battle. The final blows were dealt by Warner Bros., which earlier in February said it would stop issuing movies on HD DVD, and Wal-Mart, which in January announced it would phase out the sale of HD DVD products. As in most format wars, there are no clear winners. Both camps sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into the battle, not always to make the products better but in efforts to woo content makers. The format war also stunted growth by confusing consumers. It made logistics more difficult for retailers. Sony has conceded it won't make its sales goal for Blu-ray players this year. Part of the problem is the price for films on the discs, but Sony and other player manufacturers also may be hesitating to bring prices down after spending so much money on their battle.