Oct 20 AT 3:23 PM Taylor Wimberly 25 Comments

Could Walmart sell the Google phone this holiday season?

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?

Straight Talk is the new cellular service from Walmart.

Straight Talk is the new cellular service from Walmart.

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.

Verizon has the largest 3G network in the United States.

Verizon has the largest 3G network in the United States.

[via TheStreet]

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://codeshogun.com lordhong

    ha… how many android phones are we buying for this holiday season?

  • RevenG

    It would be cool if it was that concept phone they showed. The Google gO Phone.

  • thelazzyone

    This whole prediction doesn’t make any sense to me.

    How is this different than when Google worked with HTC or Motorola to produce the “Google Experience” devices?

    If Google is working with a manufacturer and not building the device themselves (totally), what is the scoop?

  • http://simplyblog.net Miguel

    They should build their own phone anyone could use on whatever network they desire. Why not? Tweak the device some, more music friendly- it could be the Google MP3 player and phone, the phone part is option but it’s up to the user. :)

  • kris

    I am still wondering what happened to the G1V2 that boy genious wrote an article about??

  • Kyle Lutes

    Though I don’t think we are at this point yet totally, here is something to consider, maybe it runs on multiple carriers allowing maximum coverage and global use and higher data speeds at more times. Some time in the past year Google issued a statement that they feel the future of communications wirelessly will involve phones that can jump networks and where network use will be like a utility provided for a cost by unit and you can switch between offerings for the best rate. If I can find a link I will share but it just opens the possibility in my mind for a phone from google someday being a multiple carrier platform.

  • newspeak

    If this is real I don’t see why it would be anything other then an unlocked carrier free phone

    I would think seeing that htc has built phones with other branding before they would be the ones to make it and it most likely would be built to order…I don’t see this happening its just too weird of an idea …I also think the idea of feature phones with android will become moot considering the potenial lower data plan pricing coming

  • http://www.googlemoneytree.me/ newspeak

    If this is real I don’t see why it would be anything other then an unlocked carrier free phone

    I would think seeing that htc has built phones with other branding before they would be the ones to make it and it most likely would be built to order…I don’t see this happening its just too weird of an idea …I also think the idea of feature phones with android will become moot considering the potenial lower data plan pricing coming
    Oops…forgot to say great post! Looking forward to your next one.

  • http://headtoheadracing.appspot.com/ Craigo

    Lets not forget that Google already sell their own Android phone…the Android Dev Phone ;)

  • Derrick

    Just release the damn Xperia X3 AKA X10 AKA Rachael, I don’t need the best of in the sense that this post is talking about. I need the best of as in the best damn phone with a processor capable of running all these cool little features smoothly. Nothing more annoying than having all this technology and nothing seems to work right (or at least quickly). Why is it so f&^%&*% hard to come out with a quality high-end phone that does everything right? And not only do it right, do it without lagging!

  • Ian

    Kris, it’s the Cliq

  • s15274n

    My wife has a demo blackberry that has unlimited everything. her name is not on the account as she was doing PR at the time. Could she take her SIM card from T-Mo and place it in this phone and it work fine? Would the phone number and data plan carry over (ie, tied to the SIM card)? I would love to get her away from the BB and into an android, but a free phone is a free phone. Thoughts?

  • Cicero Romano

    Google may be jumping in the market with too little and too late. I’m so over the latest must have bells and whistles in a phone that charges an arm and a leg to operate. What these big companies are conducting is highway robbery, quite frankly. About six months ago I lost my job and streamlined my full household budget. I got a StraighTalk and now save about $80 a month over my previous bill. The beauty of this pre-paid service is that I have no contract, I pay as I go and the service is carried on Verizon, ranked top network in the country with less dead zones and dropped calls. Google may be good, but it’s gonna be really tough for them to beat StraighTalk.

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  • Moschops

    Lets hope for a phone with physical keyboard, GSM compatible (seriously, what’s the point of an “unlocked phone” on any CDMA network?) and Google Audio aka Gooney Tunes based on the old Napster that Best Buy owns now. Now if they’ll only allow tethering as well I’ll be SOOO happy I’ll gladly fork over four or even five bones for it.

  • Morten

    How about a phone with feature phone design with numeric keypad and a smallish qvga screen – dirt cheap with no profit for google.

    I cant see anyone else bothering to do that, so why not google? If they can successfully give android to the masses (asia) android will win irl.

  • Nadia

    Anything by Google is bound to be great but I’m not one for gadgets and with this crazy economy, I’m sticking with StraightTalk $45 unlmited!

  • claudia

    all i can say is, if they can beat the price of StraightTalk i’ll try it; but since popular/big companies are going to do this together, i highly doubt they will be able to, due to the current economic situatuion.

  • Jeff

    It would probably be a dumbed down version of an Android device. Something that is not a touch screen but something that uses a directional pad to scroll through menus and make selections. I do not think Verizon would want to cannibalize themselves by offering a full feature packed touch screen based Android phone at Straight Talk’s monthly plan prices. Although that would be sweet but why would Verizon allow that unless its a phone with limited Android capabilities?

  • Gregg

    I have a simple Straight Talk phone and it’s great for my needs, I have the unlimited everything for $45/month and I don’t really need an android phone but it could be nice as a toy. But as I said, my Straight Talk phone is perfect for my needs.

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  • http://www.gps-mobiles.com guypont

    Vivement la nouvelle version Android Froyo, de la balle rien que en voyant les demos sur le net ou les videos.