Sunday, November 4, 2007

I, Robot: The Man Behind the Google Phone

Mountain View, Calif.

A retinene scanner emitting a bluish freshness monitoring devices the entranceway to Andy Rubin's place in the foothills overlooking Silicon Valley. If the scanner acknowledges you, the door unlocks automatically. (The system do it easier to cover with former girlfriends, Mr. Rubin wishes to joke. No messy scenes retrieving keys — it's just a simple database update.)

Those forced to utilize the buzzer are greeted with another technological marvel: a robotic arm inside the glass anteroom clasps a mallet and then hits a big gong. Although Mr. Rubin won't uncover its cost, it may be one of the world's most expensive doorbells.

"It's not about the cost," said Zarko Draganic, a former co-worker of Mr. Rubin's at "It's the classic Rubin thing: You make it for the interest of doing it and because it's cool, and as a consequence there's a childlike artlessness about it."

Mr. Rubin is one of the primary designers behind another merchandise that also thwacks of possible ├╝ber-coolness — the Phone. As Google's "director of mobile platforms," Mr. Rubin supervises tons of applied scientists who are developing the software system at the company's sprawled campus here. The software system incarnates the promise of extending Google's range at a clip when cellphones let consumers to increasingly untether themselves from their desktop computers, as well as the menace that greater digital mobility presents to Google's domination of Internet search.

The Google Telephone — which, according to respective reports, will be made by Google spouses and will be available by the center of 2008 — is likely to supply a blunt direct contrast to the attacks of both and to the growth marketplace for smartphones. Google, according to respective people with direct cognition of its efforts, will give away its software system system to hand-set makers and then utilize the Google Phone's openness as an invitation for software developers and content distributers to plan applications for it.

If the attempt succeeds, it will be the most drastic challenge to day of the month of the averment by Microsoft — the godfather of the desktop personal computing machine — that Google and other members of the so-called open-source global can copy but not innovate.

And as the cellphone morphs additional into a mobile personal computer, a new software system criterion is likely pickings shape. Whoever takes the Pb in this marketplace may go a technological doorkeeper wielding the same power, and reaping the same profits, that Microsoft makes through its Windows operating system.

As the industry shifts, Google doesn't desire to fall behind, and the Google Telephone reflects its command to stay at the centre of things. It bes after to do that, industry executive directors said, by offering free mobile software system system and then presumably cashing in by providing a bill of fare of services linked to those products, like e-mail, photos, news and other services.

"Instead of making money on software, you have got person who is saying they're trying to make their money on services," said Michael Kleeman, a engineering strategian at the Golden State Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of Golden State at San Diego. "The interesting inquiry is whether the bearers will authorise the Google hand-sets on their networks."

ALL of these developments and uncertainnesses underline why visitants to Mr. Rubin's business office here acquire an contiguous sense of his project's importance for Google. Large marks in the corridors leading to his research lab warn that lone employees are allowed to pass.

The company declines to notice on the Google Phone, but Mr. Rubin's responsibilities, as well as recent leaks from the as-yet-unannounced confederation that Google is edifice to develop the software, bespeak that the company programs to make more than than merely develop an operating system for cellular phones: it bes after to musculus its manner into the centre of the concern at a clip when people worldwide are searching the Web from just about anywhere they go on to be.

Consumers are using smartphones to happen directions, ran into their friends and turn up nearby stores, eating houses and film theaters. That simple concern and cultural displacement have touched off an information-age gold rush, as Google, its hunt competitors, hand-set makers and cellphone operators all attempt to interest their claims to the mobile Web.

Already this year, Apple have redefined what people anticipate from a cellphone by introducing the , just as it did previously with its Mackintosh computer. Microsoft is making advancement as well, projecting that 20 million telephones will be sold with its Windows Mobile River software system next year. , , and a figure of other hand-set shapers are fashioning ever more than datacentric phones.

With these conflict lines drawn, Google is placing its mobile stakes in the custody of Mr. Rubin, 44, an applied scientist who have proved expert at designing the highly incorporate hardware and software system ensembles that are the trademarks of Silicon Valley companies. 1

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