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Google to Put an End to Pesky Gphone Rumors

By Katherine Noyes
Oct 30, 2007 11:19 AM PT

Sometime in the next two weeks, Google will announce its much anticipated wireless plans, according to a Tuesday report in The Wall Street Journal.

Google to Put an End to Pesky Gphone Rumors

Specifically, Google will unveil advanced software and services that enable cell phone makers to release "Google-powered" devices sometime in the first half of next year, the Journal reports, citing people familiar with the situation.

Among the handset manufacturers Google has discussed the idea with are HTC of Taiwan and LG Electronics of South Korea, and Google is also hoping to establish partnerships with wireless operators, according to the report. Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile USA appears to be the strongest contender in the United States, while France Télécom's Orange and Hutchison Whampoa's 3 UK lead in Europe, the report says.

Google officials declined to comment.

Open All the Way

In addition to including its search engine, Google Maps, YouTube and Gmail in the mobile bundle, Google reportedly plans to use open software exclusively -- including the operating system. That would enable developers to build additional phone features -- to some extent, similar to what they can currently do to some extent using Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform.

Apple, too, has said it would open up its iPhone platform to widen development possibilities.

Earlier this year, Google said it was prepared to bid US$4.6 billion in the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming 700 MHz auction. It also lobbied strongly for auction rules requiring four types of open platforms as part of license conditions: open applications, open devices, open services and open networks.

Cross-Platform Strengths

"Google has a number of mobile applications, so this wouldn't be too far of a leap," Chris Hazelton, senior analyst for mobile device technology and trends with IDC Research, told TechNewsWorld.

Whether offering its own "Gphone" would make sense is not clear, Hazelton added.

"If you look at Google's success, it's been its ability to run across platforms on any browser, any computer, and for most part across mobile devices," Hazelton explained. "It wouldn't make sense to limit themselves to one device and one operating system."

More likely is an announcement that Google will offer a flexible platform that will reach all types of phones, from entry-level devices to smartphones, Hazelton said.

Wider Audience

Indeed, LG recently announced a deal by which it would ship phones with Google offerings bundled on them, he added.

"Google is really looking to garner a wide audience, because it needs scale for its paid-search business model," Hazelton concluded. "That has been the core of its success, and it needs to extend that to a wide variety of devices in order to be successful."

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