Nov 18 AT 10:16 AM Taylor Wimberly 26 Comments

Google Phone rumors resurface. Good or bad for Android?

Last month, TheStreet.com reported Google was planning to release their own unlocked Android phone direct to retailers. Many people attacked the author of the report and criticized the rumor because they thought there was no way Google would actually consider such an option.

I believed the rumor and speculated Walmart could be their retail partner. We tried to get a comment from Google and were met with, “We do not comment on market rumor or speculation.”

Ten days later, CNET posted a story titled “Google: We’re not making Android hardware” and the rumor slowly faded away. They based their report on a conversation with Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering for Android at Google.

“We’re not making hardware,” Rubin said. “We’re enabling other people to build hardware.”

Today, I awoke to a new story from TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington: “The Google Phone Is Very Real. And It’s Coming Soon.”

His report is void of any hard facts, but I tend to believe Mr. Arrington is pretty credible. I’m still a rookie in the blogging world, but I fully understand what happens when someone gives you exciting info and you are unable to reveal your sources. My point is, he wrote the article for a good reason and he most likely believes what he is reporting on.

Details of the Google Phone are scarce, but it is now rumored the device slipped from this holiday season and will ship in early 2010. It is believed to be manufactured by a Korean company, LG or Samsung, with Mr. Arrington believing Google has chosen LG. A huge marketing push is expected for January.

Based on what I know about Google they want to run the New World Order I believe the rumor and I actually applaud them for having the balls to move forward on such a decision.

If Google tried to pull this move last year, it would have not went over well. All the handset makers might not have backed Android if they knew Google was going to be competing against them. Now some of the largest handset companies have sold their soul to Google are committed to Android and it would be disastrous for them to retool their plans.

I’m all for competition, but it worries me how the Android operating system is being developed behind closed doors. Certain companies of the OHA obviously had preferred status and were allowed early access to Android 2.0 before everyone else. If Google brands their own phone, they will certainly have the upper hand when it comes to the latest versions of Android (most of the Android engineers have checks signed by Google).

All of the sudden, Google’s takeover of Gizmo5 is starting to make a lot more sense. Here is another hint: Qaulcomm Gobi.

I’m really curious to hear what our readers think. Is Google playing their hand too early? Will this piss off other companies? Would you purchase a Google Phone? What price point would you like to see the device sell for? What missing features do you want Google to add to their phone?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://AndroidandMe.com DroidHead

    Lets do it!!! Make it the ultimate Android device though!…Make it the HTC HD2 with Android, 1ghz processor, 16gb internal memory and make it available WORLD WIDE… no exclusivity. If you make it exclusive to a carrier make it T-Mo (lol).

    Give the device the Android on the back in a cool design, Lets call it THE Android and lets make it different colors.

    If this is true Google and the hardware maker better not “F” it up!

    -Dh

    • mantrik00

      There is some logic for a Google branded phone:

      1. Most manufacturers are skinning the Android with their own GUI. There exists a demand for an Android phone with the unchanged features. Google can fit in here.
      2. Most manufacturers have made a token presence with Android OS. Majority of their devices still use other more established OS. Google can give that push for mass adoption of the Android OS.
      3. Most manufacturers have been lagging behind in adopting the latest version of the Android OS. Google’s direct presence will bolster driver development for the latest versions of the Android OS.

      Lastly, I think Google will be able to retain members of the Open Handset Alliance if it remains concurrently open to all of them about the future development of the Android OS.

  • Chris

    Any expansion of Android is a good thing, really. If you think about it, the one thing (most) Android handsets share in common is the Android Market, and the ability to run (most) apps available in the market. This means that developers will have more of an incentive to start supporting the Android platform, so in the end, in this aspect, the consumer wins.

    On the other hand, Google/handset manufactures are doing a great job of perpetuating the feeling of being an early adopter. Those that bought the G1 were soon after gimped due to insufficient ROM and the introduction of the MyTouch/ION/Magic. Those that bought the Magic were gimped by the Hero, and those that bought the Hero were gimped by the Droid, so on and so forth. It’s getting as bad as the PC market, and in the end, I think the consumer is going to be confused and ultimately unsatisfied with whatever purchase they make, knowing that the next best thing could literally launch the following day.

  • Liviu

    I think this is great for everyone only if it will have a lower price than other phones.
    Maybe Google want to put a front camera on it so the video calls over internet will be reality next year :)

  • Aerimus

    I fail to see what the difference is between what you’re describing and the developer phones android has already released. I find it convenient that the last rumor took place right before the Android Developer phone 2 came out, which was an htc magic branded as Google.
    …Isn’t this EXACTLY what you are describing? The ADP 2 was unlocked and could function on any carrier and is available to anyone that signs up to be a developer(which only has a requirement of a google account and paying a $25 fee). So in essence, you can have exactly what you describe for a grand total of $424 and it’s already for sale…

    http://phandroid.com/2009/11/13/android-dev-phone-2-adp2-is-the-google-ion/

    It’s even renamed as the “Google Ion”

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      The difference is ADP phones are geared towards and only available to developers.

      A Google Phone would be sold direct to customers and be available in retail stores.

      • Aerimus

        Yeah, I understand the difference. I just feel as far as rumors go, if there was an insider somewhere that saw this, they might report it as what is being described in this post. With google’s very blunt rejection of the original rumor, I just feel it is very likely a confusion over the 2nd dev phone. I feel like both sides are correct, it’s just a difference of the way you look at the dev phone. On one side it’s just a developer phone so it doesn’t count, but on the other side OMG it’s a Google branded phone that they’re selling to anyone who wants it.

      • Aerimus

        I must say though, I pray and hope that it really is the HTC Passion/Dragon…i’ve been waiting for that phone a while now!

  • http://www.thecapm.com/ MP

    I’m stuck in the middle on this. I really don’t think Google would steamroll the handset members in the OHA. However they have spent the past few years establishing enough networking and contacts to manufacture a hand held unit, they have the resources. Taylor, you brought up an interesting aspect on Gobi. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google Chrome is implemented on a Google-Gobi notebook in the near future. It really comes down to hardware. If Google can see the market trend for higher, better performing handsets (1ghz processor, more competent RAM, etc) and beat the other manufacturers to the punch, I’d drop my MT3G in no time.

    -MP

  • http://beersurfing.com Elliot

    I’ve long considered the G1 to be “the Google Phone” and often describe it as such to people who have never heard of the G1. The laymen I describe it to already recognize it as such. Google offers it unlocked to anyone that signs up for a developer license, which is $25 and has no other restrictions.

    You can, of course, just root a T-Mobile G1 and install the devphone bootloader. It’s almost the same thing, except you don’t get that cool looking battery cover.

  • Chris

    I don’t think it would be that big of a competition to the carriers phones. For one it would not be subsidized but that would make for the possibility for a lot of cool things. One possibility is with their recent acquisition of the VOIP provider they might be creating a device that will work over data networks (i.e. a $50 a month data only plan with carriers) and provide voice calling over VOIP. I would be interested in that and I imagine that some carriers might be as well as they would be able to get more for their data services that will be tied up at a relatively equivalent rate as a smartphone for almost double the money without having to provide services. Some will love it some will hate it. It is always possible though.

  • http://www.thecapm.com/ MP

    Good point Chris. Does anyone know who currently services the google voice network? If this is google’s own infrastructure, then that’s one more item off the “to do list”.

    -MP

  • droidster

    The G1 is still the best fucking android phone available on t-moo..is it possible to use the droid on t-mo?

    • CJ

      You could use the Motorola Sholes which is the GSM variant.

  • http://mondegreen2.blogspot.com/ Mondegreen

    I just don’t see what Google’s motivation would be. It would cause conflict with the other handset manufacturers, and what would be the benefit to Google? I think the last thing Google wants is to be in the low-margin, commodity-prone hardware business. It is not a current core competency, and not an attractive segment to move into.

    Enough phones have appeared now that there is no need for them to act in order to “jump start” the market. And if they hypothesis is that they want to see phones built with certain capabilities–well, then they could just work closely with a favored manufacturer to get that, as they did with Motorola to give Droid the early release on Android v 2.0.

    I just don’t see the logic behind it. I think Aerimus has the best hypothesis to reconcile the above opinion with the persistent rumor.
    http://androidandme.com/2009/11/news/google-phone-rumors-resurface-good-or-bad-for-android/#comment-11264

  • 94wolf

    What is google involved in:
    Mobile (phone) OS
    VoIP (Gizmo5 purchase)
    ClearWire partner for WiMax
    Possibly their own phone…

    Could google be targeting a continuously connected internet device on the Clear WiMax system that would bypass Carrier restrictions. The only plan you would need is your monthly data cost???

  • A man

    Well, if Google is planning to offer premium services for a relatively low cost, I’d be the first to pay my ETF and jump aboard. This definitely sounds like something Google could definitely be planning. Google’s new Maps app anyone?

    • just some dude

      you can get the new maps nav now, if your rooted. i have it running on my Mytouch 3g. voice with turn by turn and street view too. head over to the XDA forums to get yours.

  • anthony

    Here is my grain of salt on this. This is no different from releasing android 2.0 on the motorola droid first. Other companies will be able to get their hands on this. Regards to carriers….they make a lot of money off a 30 data plan so a 60 data plan is more loot in their pockets. One it will not be wildy adopted so no fears. Also data only plans may be the future and google is just getting ahead of themselves. Just let me know where the line starts for it :)

  • chewtoy

    Hoped for features in any new phone (aka what it would take to make me happy):

    * The speakerphone should be loud enough to really use, anywhere except front row at a rock concert.

    * The microsdhc slot must be accessible EASILY.

    * The camera must kick the crap out of all the existing phone cameras — there’s no reason my phone camera shouldn’t be able to capture great still pics at night and fast motion pics without blurring in the daytime!!! NONE!!! That is just inexcusable!!!

    * Just the standard android interface — screw all this idiotic custom android crap! The only software any OEM should contribute is kickass hardware drivers. Leave the OS and interface to a single branch, the main branch.

    * An FM tuner would be nice.

    * Storage of voicemail ON THE PHONE would be nice — my sanyo phone from 8 years ago was better in that respect than any existing smartphone. Way back then I could screen calls and speed up or slow down playback of voicemails, because someone at Sanyo was bright enough to realize that there was no reason the phone couldn’t outperform an answering machine and beat the heck out of carrier-provided voicemail just by using its onboard flash memory.

  • just some dude

    The article mentions that Google will have the upper hand when it comes to the better version of android, I don’t think so. They will simply have the same version the other OHA members do they will simply add there own apps/skin on there phone. If we remember back a few months iphone had the better version of google maps and it took a while before it trickled down to other carries. Google’s reply was that the android team have developed for iphone first, so i think it does not show favoritism. I think there phone stands to be the best design yet, but others are realizing androids potential and will step up there own R&D.

  • Tom Robson

    Releasing their own phone now will irritate handset makers who have recently committed to Android, like Samsung and Motorola. It’s not that hard for a company to switch from one OS to another, Motorola have just done it (embracing Android) and there are alternatives to Android, like Symbian, Blackberry OS, Maemo, etc.

    Big mistake IMO and will make people think twice about partnering with Google about anything in the future if it’s true.

    • CJ

      Tom, I would bet my testicles that there isn’t going to be “Google Phone”. As you pointed out it would piss off the current Android partners if Google sold their own phone with their own special Android variant. As it stands now the “With Google” version of handsets guarantees that you get the Android experience in the way that Google wants you to get it which is minus all the Sense UI, MotoBlur crap that manufacturers are layering on top of the OS.