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AOL counters Google, Yahoo!

Feb 11, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

AOL has announced an open source, cross-platform development environment for mobile devices. Apparently a response to Google's Android and Yahoo's Widgets initiatives, the AOL Open Mobile Platform will provide “ready access to the tools and source code” for developing rich-client applications on BREW, Java, Linux, RIM, Symbian, and Windows Mobile.

According to AOL, the Open Mobile platform is based on “proven technology acquired by AOL that has been deployed across more than 150 different handsets on carrier networks in the U.S.” A spokesperson confirmed that the technology is based on technology AOL acquired from AirMedia.

The platform is said to consist of an XML-based markup language, an ultra-lightweight mobile device client, and an application server. Open Mobile includes a dynamic presentation layer that is said to enable “rapid deployment of new features and easy optimization for a wide variety of mobile devices.”

Applications built with AOL Open Mobile can be integrated with third-party APIs, says the company, as well as with AOL's open APIs, including AIM, AOL Mail, AOL Video, MapQuest, Userplane, Truveo, and Winamp. The platform will support advertising resources, such as AOL's Platform-A technology for clickable banner ads.

The platform appears to be a rich-client approach to mobile device development, similar in scope to Google Android, as opposed to Yahoo's thin-client APIs for its Mobile Widgets. Yahoo recently indicated that it might be interested in reopening its intention to acquire AOL, which is still owned by Time Warner. Some speculate, however, that this might merely be a way to increase its asking price from hostile suitor Microsoft. Yahoo's board of directors unanimously agreed to decline Microsoft's offer this morning, but may face pressure from stockholders to reconsider.

AOL is no stranger to the Linux mobile device landscape, having acquired Wildseed (formerly GitWit) in 2005. Wildseed targeted the teen market with dual-band GSM/GPRS Linux fashion phones with snap-on plastic skins themed around popular entertainers. Last January, AOL announced a Linux-based, hard drive-equipped portable media player (PMP) called Smartscreen (pictured at right), manufactured by Haier and based on a Wildseed design. Tegic, another AOL subsidiary acquired in recent years, also worked on the design. Tegic was was best known for its predictive text-input software for mobile keypads.

Stated Steve Murphy, SVP of AOL, “Our new open platform will provide developers with a new breed of tools, including source code, for creating robust mobile services and will encourage product innovation.”

Stated AOL EVP, Kevin Conroy, of AOL. “AOL is committed to providing developers around the world with access to our core technologies which give them the ability to build and deliver innovative new products. Mobile is an important example of how we're opening AOL's products to the developer community and providing access to new open tools and source code.”

Availability

The AOL Open Mobile Platform is expected to be available this summer. More information is available here, but so far, there's not much there.


 
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