Google Phone (HTC Passion?) being distributed to employees

Update: the WSJ says it is all true.  Google will be selling this device at the beginning of next year direct to consumers, unlocked.

It looks like the "real" Google Phone is upon us. From initial reports (mostly tweets from Google employees -- which could be a hoax), TechCrunch is hearing things like:

"A sexy beast. Like an iPhone on beautifying steroids."

Another Twitterer, Jason Howell from CNET lays out some specs:

Scroll ball (excellent for Centipede), "thinner than  iPhone", Android 2.1, Unlocked (so works on either AT&T or Tmobile), Capacitive touch screen and on screen

He also comments:

I was given the phone for a very limited time from a Google employee. It resembled an HTC Hero to my eyes, though a tiny bit smaller and DEFINITELY thinner. I kept looking over at the guy using it, thinking to myself that it WAS a Hero, but when I asked, he spilled the beans. Google employees were handed the phones today. He reiterated that there would probably be a decent amount of information hitting the tubes this weekend. With my limited time with the device, I saw it running Android 2.1. The home screen had this animated background image that looked nifty with red and blue lasers shooting across it. The gray bar at the bottom of the home screen was replaced with the “house” line art used on the face of most Android phones that takes you to the home screen. Looked sleeker. Super light phone too.

This phone was unlocked, though the guy had thrown an AT&T sim card into it.

That’s about all I was able to glean in my minute’s worth of dabbling. It was sleek and nice looking, but I am scratching my head trying to figure out what the real difference is between this and any of the newer HTC Android phones. Scanning the apps, I didn’t see anything that really stood out as different from what I have on my Droid. And being that it was Android 2.1, the only really differences I saw were a few visual ones. So it doesn’t appear (in its current state) to really be offering “the *real* Android” experience that’s mind blowingly different from what’s out there so far. Maybe I just didn’t dig deep enough to find it though.

Sorry I couldn’t snap a photo.

 A Google Program Manager writes:

“Stuck in mass of traffic leaving work post last all hands of 2009. ZOMG we had fireworks and we all got the new Google phone. It’s beautiful.”

Daring Firball says they've found the strings of a Google phone visitor in their weblogs:

Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.1; en-us; Nexus One Build/ERD56C) AppleWebKit/530.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/530.17

The real killer feature of these phones would be that they are sold open, without a carrier.  And, if they have Wifi and VoIP you might be able to *gulp* skip the carrier part of the equation.  Or just get a Mifi.

Real shots and specs of the device should be dropping at any moment.  It is pretty incredible that nothing has been leaked yet actually.  I'll update if I find anything.

Update: Google's posted a quick blog entry on the matter.  They call the release "dogfooding" and are giving little other information.  It is quite amazing that his is all we've heard at this point.:

At Google, we are constantly experimenting with new products and technologies, and often ask employees to test these products for quick feedback and suggestions for improvements in a process we call dogfooding (from "eating your own dogfood"). Well this holiday season, we are taking dogfooding to a new level.


We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe. This means they get to test out a new technology and help improve it.


Unfortunately, because dogfooding is a process exclusively for Google employees, we cannot share specific product details. We hope to share more after our dogfood diet.

Many think the device is this HTC Passion.  Details are sketchy but it seems like it is a 1GHz Snapdragon speed-demon in a small package


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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