The last month has been rife with both speculation and confirmation of the "side projects" the geeks at Google have been focusing on for the balance of 2007. Two big announcements involved new, open source platforms for web development in two of the hottest and fastest-growing arenas in interactive advertising: social media and mobile.
We've included a video with WSJ reporter Amol Sharma above. Sharma does a great job of presenting, in layman's terms, the implications of Google's newly-announced mobile platform, Android. Android is the real-world version of the heavily rumored "gPhone." Rather than a hardware device, Google has announced an open-source (and presumably ad-supported) mobile application platform.
Mobile advertising has been a major buzz item in interactive advertising circles for most of 2007, however, it has also mostly failed to live up to the hype surrounding it. U.S. numbers for mobile web access continue to lag far behind Asia and Europe.
While the prospect of a near-universal, open source development platform means that interactive developers have a new foothold in getting their applications onto the mobile web, it doesn't guarantee that there will be an audience to monetize once they arrive. It also seems unlikely that an influx of new "cool mobile apps" from independent publishers and developers will significantly increase the number of Americans accessing the web via their mobile devices.
However, as is often the case, the saving grace for mobile may be more traditional media channels, most notably the television, film and music industries. If the new Android platform lowers the cost and time-frame for mobile applications enough that these industries begin releasing more highly-sought mobile-only content (such as mobisodes for extremely popular shows Heroes and Lost).