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Android, Inc. was founded in Palo Alto, California in October 2003 by Andy Rubin (co-founder of Danger), Rich Miner (co-founder of Wildfire Communications, Inc.), Nick Sears (once VP at T-Mobile), and Chris White (headed design and interface development at WebTV) to develop, in Rubin's words "...smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner's location and preferences." Android Inc. operated secretly, revealing only that it was working on software for mobile phones. That same year, Rubin ran out of money. Steve Perlman, a close friend of Rubin, brought him $10,000 in cash in an envelope and refused a stake in the company. Google acquired Android Inc. on August 17, 2005, making it a wholly owned subsidiary of Google. Key employees of Android Inc., including Rubin, Miner and White, stayed at the company after the acquisition. Not much was known about Android Inc. at the time, but many assumed that Google was planning to enter the mobile phone market with this move. At Google, the team led by Rubin developed a mobile device platform powered by the Linux kernel. Google marketed the platform to handset makers and carriers on the promise of providing a flexible, upgradable system. Google had lined up a series of hardware component and software partners and signaled to carriers that it was open to various degrees of cooperation on their part. On November 5, 2007, the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of technology companies including Google, device manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung, wireless carriers such as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile, and chipset makers such as Qualcomm and Texas Instruments, unveiled itself, with a goal to develop open standards for mobile devices. That day, Android was unveiled as its first product, a mobile device platform built on the Linux kernel version 2.6. The first commercially available phone to run Android was the HTC Dream, released on October 22, 2008.
Android received a lukewarm reaction when it was unveiled in 2007. Although analysts were impressed with the respected technology companies that had partnered with Google to form the Open Handset Alliance, it was unclear whether mobile phone manufacturers would be willing to replace their existing operating systems with Android. The idea of an open source, Linux-based development platform sparked interest, but there were additional worries about Android facing strong competition from established players in the smartphone market, such as Nokia and Microsoft, and rival Linux mobile operating systems that were in development. These established players were skeptical: Nokia was quoted as saying "we don't see this as a threat," and a member of Microsoft's Windows Mobile team stated "I don't understand the impact that they are going to have."
But Google managed to push android forward mainly of the strength of integration with gmail and other "cloud" applications. In five years Android has grown to the level of the most widely used smartphone operating system. The most successful Android table is Amazon Kindle which is actually a specialized media consumption device, not so much a regular multipurpose tablet. Barnes & Noble also produce Android based readers.
Zero cost made Android as Ars Technica noted "practically the default operating system for launching new hardware" for companies without their own mobile platforms.
This openness and flexibility is to some extent preserved at the level of the end user: Android allows extensive customization of devices by their owners and apps are freely available from non-Google app stores and third party websites. The latter also let to proliferation of Android malware.
Despite its success on smartphones, Android tablet adoption has been slow. This is primarily blamed on a chicken or the egg situation where consumers are hesitant to buy an Android tablet due to a lack of high quality tablet apps, but developers are hesitant to spend time and resources developing tablet apps until there's a significant market for them. Other factors included high prices and the dominance of Apple's iPad. This began to change in 2012 with the release of Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and Google own Nexus 7 tablet which in 7" version and 16GB SSD was aggressively priced at $199, the same price that Amazon Kindle. Google also is trying to compete with Amazon by cresting its own PlayStore. There is also a push by Google for developers to write better tablet apps.
Research company Canalys estimated in the second quarter of 2009 that Android had a 2.8% share of worldwide smartphone shipments. By the fourth quarter of 2010 this had grown to 33% of the market, becoming the top-selling smartphone platform. By the third quarter of 2011 Gartner estimated that more than half (52.5%) of the smartphone market belongs to Android. By the third quarter of 2012 Android had a 75% share of the global smartphone market according to the research firm IDC.
In July 2011, Google said that 550,000 new Android devices were being activated every day, up from 400,000 per day in May, and more than 100 million devices had been activated with 4.4% growth per week. In September 2012, 500 million devices had been activated with 1.3 million activations per day.
Android market share varies by location. In July 2012, Android's market share in the United States was 52%but this rises to 90% in China.
There has been some concern about the ease with which paid Android apps can be
pirated. In a May 2012 interview with Eurogamer, the developers of Football
Manager stated that the ratio of pirated players vs legitimate players was 9:1 for
their game Football Manager Handheld. However, not every developer agreed
that piracy rates were an issue; for example, in July 2012 the developers of the
game Wind-up Knight said that piracy levels of their game were only 12%, and most
of the piracy came from China, where people cannot purchase apps from Google Play.
In 2010, Google released a tool for validating authorised purchases for use within apps, but developers complained that this was insufficient and trivial to crack. Google responded that the tool, especially its initial release, was intended as a sample framework for developers to modify and build upon depending on their needs, not as a finished security solution. In 2012 Google released a feature in Android 4.1 that encrypted paid applications so that they would only work on the device on which they were purchased, but this feature has been temporarily deactivated due to technical issues.
Both Android and Android phone manufacturers have been the target of numerous patent lawsuits. On August 12, 2010, Oracle sued Google over claimed infringement of copyrights and patents related to the Java programming language. Oracle originally sought damages up to $6.1 billion, but this valuation was rejected by a federal judge who asked Oracle to revise the estimate. In response, Google submitted multiple lines of defense, counterclaiming that Android did not infringe on Oracle's patents or copyright, that Oracle's patents were invalid, and several other defenses. They said that Android is based on Apache Harmony, a clean room implementation of the Java class libraries, and an independently developed virtual machine called Dalvik. In May 2012 the jury in this case found that Google did not infringe on Oracle's patents, and the trial judge ruled that the structure of the Java APIs used by Google was not copyrightable.
In addition to lawsuits against Google directly, various proxy wars have been
waged against Android indirectly by targeting manufacturers of Android devices,
with the effect of discouraging manufacturers from adopting the platform by increasing
the costs of bringing an Android device to market. Both Apple and Microsoft have
sued several manufacturers for patent infringement, with Apple's ongoing legal action
against Samsung being a particularly high-profile case. In October 2011 Microsoft
said they had signed patent license agreements with ten Android device manufacturers,
whose products account for 55% of the worldwide revenue for Android devices. These
include Samsung and HTC. Samsung's patent settlement with Microsoft includes an
agreement that Samsung will allocate more resources to developing and marketing
phones running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.
Google has publicly expressed its frustration for the current patent landscape in the United States, accusing Apple, Oracle and Microsoft of trying to take down Android through patent litigation, rather than innovating and competing with better products and services In 2011-2, Google purchased Motorola Mobility for US$12.5 billion, which was viewed in part as a defensive measure to protect Android, since Motorola Mobility held more than 17,000 patents. In December 2011 Google bought over a thousand patents from IBM.
While Android is designed primarily for smartphones and tablets, the open and customizable nature of the operating system allows it to be used on other electronics, including laptops and netbooks, smartbooks and smart TVs (Google TV). Further, in 2011, Google demonstrated "Android@Home", new home automaton technology which uses Android to control a range of household devices including light switches, power sockets and thermostats.
In addition, the Android operating system has seen niche applications on smart glasses (Project Glass), wristwatches, headphones, car CD and DVD players, mirrors, cameras (e.g. the Nikon Coolpix S800c) portable media players.
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