The Google Phone has arrived, except that it’s not a phone. It’s an open source operating system for handsets that’s based on Linux and that will be released under an Apache license. Google has lined up an impressive list of handset makers and carriers who will be adopting Android.

This really is great news. It’s wide open, it’s got enough big names behind it that it’s nearly certain to take off, and it puts pressure on Apple to open up the iPhone. I expect that we’ll remember 2007 as the year when the mobile phone industry underwent a fundamental change, shifting power away from carriers and toward the people who actually have to use the phones.

Update: A lot of people are pointing out that the Android is vaporware. If the carriers don’t buy handsets with Android or the handset makers decide not to install it on their devices, then of course this announcement won’t amount to much. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes Google to release an emulator like the Symbian emulator that’s available.