The Android platform is the product of the Open Handset Alliance, a group of organizations collaborating to build a better mobile phone. The group, led by Google, includes mobile operators, device handset manufacturers, component manufacturers, software solution and platform providers, and marketing companies. Google purchased the initial developer of the software, Android Inc., in 2005.
Google released most of the Android code under the Apache License, a free software license. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) is tasked with the maintenance and further development of Android.
The first Android-capable handset on the market was the G1 device manufactured by HTC and provisioned on T-Mobile. The device became available after almost a year of speculation, where the only software development tools available were some incrementally improving SDK releases. As the G1 release date neared, the Android team released SDK V1.0 and applications began surfacing for the new platform. To spur innovation, Google sponsored two rounds of "Android Developer Challenges," where millions of dollars were given to top contest submissions. A few months after the G1, the Android Market was released, allowing users to browse and download applications directly to their phones. Over about 18 months, a new mobile platform entered the public arena.