Google: All aboard the Open train

Open cellphones, OpenSocial — it’s obvious that Google sees as its main competitive advantage a totally open (more or less) approach to data of all kinds. Just as it is trying to create a platform for the free movement of social data through OpenSocial, so it seems determined to create an open platform in the mobile arena.

I’ll say one thing: mobile is one of the places where we could all use a bit more openness. Right now, the mobile sphere is where the Internet was back in the early 1990s — it’s a morass of proprietary standards and walled-garden content, combined with the most usurious fees since the department-store credit card was invented.

As for Apple’s iPhone, it may be sexy and fantastically useful, but it is still a bit like a mobile version of America Online as far as I can tell (just as Facebook is on the Web). Is that really the best we can do?

I don’t know whether Google is trying to control the whole mobile effort, or whether it just wants to piggyback on mobile as an ad platform, or maybe a bit of both. And there is certainly a concern, as Om Malik notes, that some of the company’s partners are less than stellar (yes, I’m looking at you, Motorola). But I think the quest for openness has to be supported in virtually every arena, if only because it makes things easier — and I would argue in the long run more rewarding — for users.

Further reading:

Search Engine Land has more on the news, and Silicon Alley Insider looks at potential winners and losers (Larry Dignan at ZDNet has some thoughts about that too). USA Today has a short Q&A with Andy Rubin, who is spearheading the Android platform project. The NYT has a story here, and the official Google press release is here.

The live-blogging press corps, meanwhile, consists of Engadget, as well as its evil twin Gizmodo, along with Silicon Alley Insider, CrunchGear’s John Biggs — who is taking questions via IM — and a blogger from PCWorld mag.

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