Google on Monday lifted the shroud cloaking its long-rumored plans to enter the mobile phone market, saying it was building software to make the Internet run more easily on cellphones.
The Mountain View, California-based company has set up an industry consortium it calls the Open Handset Alliance and signed up 30 member companies, it said.
It said the software system, known as Android, would be "the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices."
"Through Android, developers, wireless operators and handset manufacturers will be better positioned to bring to market innovative new products faster and at a much lower cost. The end result will be an unprecedented mobile platform that will enable wireless operators and manufacturers to give their customers better, more personal and more flexible mobile experiences," Google said.
Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile will start selling Google software-based phones next year. China Mobile Ltd , the world's largest mobile carrier, Japan's NTT DoCoMo and KDDI and European and Latin American operator Telefonica also said they were working with handset makers to develop Google-based phones.
Google, which has no immediate plans to make phones of its own, said it forged an alliance with 33 companies, including phone makers Motorola Inc Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and High Tech Computer Corp .
The Android platform will give mobile operators and device manufacturers significant freedom and flexibility to design products. Next week the Alliance will release an early access software development kit to provide developers with the tools necessary to create applications for the platform.
"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 Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt. "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."
Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 U.S. mobile service and a member of the alliance, said the system will be based on open-source Linux code and available to phone makers and carriers without license fees.
It is expected to support applications from different developers as well as Google Web search, e-mail and mapping, according to Sprint.
Google has long been rumored to be working on a new class of free or low-cost ad-supported phone of its own, known as the "Gphone." CEO Schmidt would not rule out Google developing its own devices, but said it had no immediate plans to do so.