Google is planning to launch an Android phone of its own this holiday season. In a surprise move, the device is expected to be available this year directly through retailers and not carriers. The phone is said to feature a Qualcomm processor and be produced by an unnamed smartphone manufacturer.
Allow me to spread some crazy ideas and start some new rumors.
Who will make the phone?
A report from TheStreet is claiming Google “would probably use a partner they are familiar with” to get the phone to market. In my head, that would be limited to HTC and Motorola. HTC worked closely with Google to produce the first Android phone and Motorola has been cozy with Google working on Android 2.0.
I’m going to assume this first Google phone will be low priced since it will be sold through retail channels and not subsidized by a big carrier.
Motorola has expressed desire to bring Android to feature phones. They announced during their last earnings call that their iDEN portfolio (Boost Mobile) would include Android devices.
Sanjay Jha, the Co-CEO of Motorola said, “Our core strategy really is to take Android and take Android to as low down the feature phone tier, as we possibly can, by bringing in Smartphone features, best of Internet, best of messaging, best of multi-media, best of location services.”
However, Android is not currently equipped to run on feature phones and I doubt Motorola would be able to produce a device in time for this holiday season.
A more likely partner for Google would be HTC. The Taiwan-based manufacturer has been producing Android phones longer than any other company and has the most Android devices currently in the market. HTC also has a low-end Android device (Tattoo) that is ready to go.
Who will sell the phone?
Again, I think the choices are limited for Google. The only two retail partners I can think of are Best Buy and Walmart.
Best Buy would be a likely candidate because they recently partnered with Google to produce mobile applications. Forbes actually reported that the two companies were “lining up exclusive distribution rights for highly anticipated gadgets.” When I first read that story, I had no idea what they were referring to, but you could decipher that to be related to this surprising turn of events.
If Best Buy is going to sell the phone, would would provide service?
The above question leads me to Walmart who recently announced their new cellular offering Straight Talk. The service is post paid (no contract), offers flat rate pricing, and uses the Verizon network. An unlimited everything plan is available for $45 a month.
I’m not sure what kind of relationship Google has with Walmart, but who can think of a larger distribution channel?
What network will power the phone?
This new Google phone needs a network to run on and Verizon has the largest 3G coverage by far. Given that Straight Talk runs on the Verizon network, this could be a viable option. Google obviously has a good connection with Verizon since they chose the carrier to launch Android 2.0 (when the Moto Droid ships in November).
The problem with Verizon is that their current network is CDMA (only popular in the U.S.). Google may choose a GSM carrier like AT&T or T-Mobile in order to launch a phone that works all around the world.