Android is no iPhone, yet

The launch today of Android, Google’s new cell phone OS, has elicited the usual hoopla.

The system, in partnership with T-Mobile’s G1 cell phone, may prove to be, despite some lukewarm reviews, a worthy competitor to Apple’s iPhone. While many of its features are similar, offering the now standard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the prime selling point is the OS’s underlying Linux-based open source mobile platform.

The company is touting how this will allow its app store, called the Android Marketplace, to be completely open – the inference being that it will be easier for developers to create and distribute their applications for the device without the policing Apple provides with its app store.

Critics are already pointing out how this lack of security oversight could lead to viruses and malware being dropped into coding as easily as adding salt to a recipe.

In a piece today, NY Times tech and gadget guru David Pogue responds to those accusations, saying, “[Google] will remove apps that contain malware, copyright infringement, pornography, etc…”

But we have to wonder. Last year, Google got things rolling by offering $10 million in prizes to developers. Recently announced winners included Wertago, a social networking app that lets users hook up with their friends; and cab4me, which enables users to summon a taxi with one click.

Certainly, the first wave of apps will prove useful and fun for the ever-burgeoning techno set. However, the next wave of apps is sure to take advantage of the popularity of the new smart phone technology to launch insidious malware attacks.

Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, predicts that Google’s take from mobile search revenue will reach about $2 billion by 2012. So the stakes are high.

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