Android is a mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel. It was initially developed by Google and later the Open Handset Alliance. In July 2005, Google acquired Android, Inc., a small startup company based in Palo Alto, California, USA. Android's co-founders who went to work at Google included 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). At the time, little was known about the functions of Android, Inc. other than that they made software for mobile phones. This began rumors that Google was planning to enter the mobile phone market, although it was unclear what function it might perform in that market.
In September 2007, InformationWeek covered an Evalueserve study reporting that Google had filed several patent applications in the area of mobile telephony. On 5 November 2007, the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of several companies which include Texas Instruments, Broadcom Corporation, Google, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell Technology Group, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile was unveiled with the goal to develop open standards for mobile devices. Along with the formation of the Open Handset Alliance, the OHA also unveiled their first product, Android, a mobile device platform built on the Linux kernel version 2.6. On 9 December 2008, it was announced that 14 new members would be joining the Android project including: ARM Holdings Plc, Atheros Communications, Asustek Computer Inc, Garmin Ltd, Softbank, Sony Ericsson, Toshiba Corp, and Vodafone Group Plc.
In 21 October 2008, Android has been available as open source. Google opened the entire source code (including network and telephony stacks under an Apache License. With the Apache License, vendors are free to add proprietary extensions without submitting those back to the open source community.
Analysts suggest that by 2012, Android could be the second largest mobile phone OS with 14% of the market, behind Symbian (with 36%) and in front of iPhone OS (with 13%). Gartner suggests "Android is simply licensed to more manufacturers with strong companies like HTC, LG, and Dell behind it".