Google phone is coming, believe it or not

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The writing is on the wall and now people who have been briefed on Google’s cellphone project have revealed that Google has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into it. And yes, it has developed prototype handsets, is currently in talks with operators such as T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, and has talked through technical specifications with phone manufacturers.

Consumers can expect a variety of Google phones from multiple manufacturers based on its specs and better yet you may not even have to change carriers because it’s more than likely multiple operators will offer them.
Beautiful concept rendering of the Google phone courtesy of T3.

Don’t dump that new iPhone or old clamshell phone just yet because the Google Phone wouldn’t be available until next year at the earliest, say people familiar with the project.

The Mountain View, Calif., company has made clear it is serious about developing advanced software and services for cellphones. “What’s interesting about the ads in the mobile phone is that they are twice as profitable or more than the nonmobile phone ads because they’re more personal,” said Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt at the D: All Things Digital conference in May.

A Google spokesman yesterday declined to comment on a Google phone project, but noted: “We are partnering with almost all of the carriers and manufacturers to get Google search and other Google applications onto their devices and networks.”

Once again, people familiar with the matter stated that “the Google phone project goes far beyond Google’s existing deals to include its search engine or applications such as Maps on select handsets.”

As if that’s not enough info, the source continue to share that “now [Google] is drafting specifications for phones that can display all of Google’s mobile applications at their best, and it is developing new software to run on them. The company is conducting much of the development work at a facility in Boston, and is working on a sophisticated new web browser for cellphones, people familiar with the plans say.”

Taking a different route than Apple, Google is willing to let manufacturers create devices on a common set of specifications and hope that multiple operators will offer its phone.

Google has approached several wireless operators in the U.S. and Europe in recent months, including AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon

Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, people familiar with the situation say. T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, appears to be the furthest along in considering it, these people say. Andy Rubin, who helped design T-Mobile’s popular Sidekick phone, now works at Google and is involved in its handset project.
google phone
The specifications Google has laid out for devices suggest that manufacturers include cameras for photo and video, and built-in Wi-Fi technology to access the Web at hot spots such as airports, coffee shops and hotels.

It also is recommending that the phones be designed to work on carriers’ fastest networks, known as 3G, to ensure that Web pages can be downloaded quickly. Google suggests the phones could include Global Positioning System technology that identifies where people are.

People who have seen Google’s prototype devices say they aren’t as revolutionary as the iPhone. One was likened to a slim Nokia Corp. phone with a keyboard that slides out. Another phone format presented by Google looked more like a Treo or a BlackBerry.

It’s not clear which manufacturers might build Google wireless devices, though people familiar with the project say LG Electronics Co. of South Korea is one company that has held talks with Google. Google has already lined up a series of hardware component and software partners and signaled to carriers that it’s open to various degrees of cooperation on their part, the people say.

Phone manufacturers and operators will not be charged a licensing fee but Google has suggested the phones could carry the Google brand alongside the brand of the operator or, alternatively, leave it out completely.

Any time a new player enters a market, especially when it comes to Google, it’s extremely exciting because consumers will soon have more options to choose from. Their flexible approach towards branding is also interesting, and will inevitably draw comparisons with “everything must match” Apple and AT&T.

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