Is the gPhone coming in 2007? (and 2001)

Welcome to Wednesday's IT Blogwatch: in which we look forward to Google's new phone. Or phones. Or something. Or nothing. Not to mention the making of 2001...

Mark "Rizzn" Hopkins claims a deep throat insider

I talked to one of my inside sources at Google today. He spoke on conditions of anonymity, but the guy is someone I trust implicitly. He said that he was baffled at Google's apparent internal confusion on the GPhone issue - that they've actually demo'ed the thing in public before. He said that the Google (applications) Suite is going to play a huge role in the usability of the GPhone ... This is my analysis based on what he told me: It'll probably be sold at a loss or sold as a loss leader to increase ad-monetized content viewing.
This is a solid confirmation on the GPhone ... It's a modified Linux kernel ... There is integrated GPS and GoogleMaps. I couldn't get much more out of him than that, and he wouldn't put anything on the record, due to his unique position at the company he wasn't sure what exactly he was allowed to say, but his exuberance and confidence was quite clear when he talked about the GPhone. [more]

Om Malik muses on:

Google Phone has been a subject of many rumors lately. Mark Hopkins, a technology podcaster, says he got the confirmation of the Gphone after talking to an insider ... If that indeed is the case, then it makes sense for Google to be talking to mobile carriers in countries where PC density is marginal. By tightly integrating the Google Apps, Google Phone could become a viable rival to the much ballyhooed $100 PC being promoted by everyone from Nicholas Negroponte and Microsoft (MSFT), and will also over come the connectivity problem facing most of the $100 PC schemes. Of course, I have no way of confirming what Hopkins is claiming, so take this post with a big pinch of salt. [more]

Ryan Block scratches his head:

Can it be true? Is the Googlephone nigh at hand? Not that we haven't been hearing this time after time ... but we've actually got some hot news from a number of very trustworthy sources about Google's plans for the mobile space. Namely, Google's mobile device platform is well on its way, and will be announced in the very near future. We understand that the "Gphone OS" (our name for it, not theirs) began development after Google's very quiet 2005 acquisition of mobile software company Android, started by Danger cofounder and former-prez / CEO Andy Rubin. At Google, Andy's team has developed a Linux-based mobile device OS (no surprise) which they're currently shopping around to handset makers and carriers on the premise of providing a flexible, customizable system -- with really great Google integration, of course.
>From what we've heard Google isn't necessarily working on hardware of its own, but is definitely working with OEMs and ODMs to get them to put the Gphone OS on upcoming devices. Think of it more in terms of Windows Mobile or Palm OS (in the early days) -- Google wants to supply the platform, but we don't think they want to sell hardware. Still, don't entirely rule out the idea. Andy Rubin knows how to make a device and put it in peoples' hands, so nothing is impossible on the hardware side. [more]

Doug Aamoth has more on Android:

A little history about Android. It was owned by Andy Rubin, who’s worked for Apple, WebTV, Motorola, and founded Danger, the company that invented the very popular Sidekick/Hiptop. When Google bought Android, they got a lot of talented people including Andy McFadden (developed Moxi Digital’s set-top box), Richard Miner (VP of Technology at Orange), and Chris White (head of design and UI for WebTV).

Google and Android have both been very tight-lipped since they joined forces. Shortly before the purchase, Andy Rubin was quoted as saying something to the effect that Android had been working on a cell phone operating system and that there was a big market for mobile devices that are location-aware. Also, future devices should be able to apply your location to your preferences. So basically if I’m within two blocks of an electronics store, my phone will send me coupons and discounts for that store. [more]

Joe "Duck" Hunkins waddled in to say:

Well, Google does it again with yet another online brilliancy. How do you market a “Google Phone” without paying a dime for hardware development? ... This is a really clever approach because it will allow Google to maintain core competency focus on software and advertising, something that founders appear to think has been lacking lately with the many aquisitions. Also, this will bring market forces to bear to quickly lower the price of iPhone-like mobile devices.

How does Google benefit from lower prices on browsing phones? Why, ADVERTISING of course! Ads remain about 98% of Google revenue and mobile ads are arguably the online sector with the most explosive growth potential. Rather than go head to head with the iPhone Google will continue to sing it’s praises and then simply scoop up all the juicy advertising revenues as users demand Googley browsing capabilities on their phones. Vendors may get squeezed by customers to lower prices on the phones but Google still comes out a big ad winner. [more]

John Biggs bigs up his insider sources, too:

A HTC insider sent us a tip this weekend about an upcoming gPhone coming out of Taiwan that should launch Q1 2008. Google is currently assessing over twenty HTC models and refining its final handset design and will create a special version of Google Maps, compatible with built-in GPS, and compatibility with Gmail and the calendar app. There is also some talk that Samsung will be releasing gPhone handsets as well, but that has not been confirmed. One extremely interesting point? Google Talk will become a part of the phone, adding VoIP capability to the hardware.
That Google is going ahead with an actual hardware launch and may be using its own OS ... and hardware is quite a shocker. [more]

Jacqui Cheng feels around:

While some of the rumors may carry more merit than others, history has shown that when news picks up, something is on the way ... Google is allegedly "in talks" with three of India's largest telecoms. According to India-based The Business Standard, the company plans to schedule a multi-continent launch in the next few weeks, including India, Europe, and possibly the US.
Is a gPhone actually coming? At this point, we think the Magic 8-Ball is saying "Yes." This week's tips come after months of similar rumors that have only gotten louder and more frequent over time. In March, Google executive Isabel Aguilera "confirmed" that the company was working on a phone internally but passed off the project as one of its employees' many side projects—nothing more than a concept. But earlier this month, new reports came out of the Wall Street Journal saying that Google was courting T-Mobile and Verizon as carriers for the gPhone in the US.
Unlike many others, we believe that when the gPhone (or gPhones, as the case may be) finally do come out, they won't be facing Apple as a competitor. The iPhone occupies a mobile market that is far separate from what Google will be targeting with its series of lower-end, consumer-level devices. Google wants as many regular people using its mobile apps as possible, which won't happen while confined to the iPhone, which is at the very top end of the mobile market. The two aren't likely to compete in the same space... unless Apple decides to go for the lower-end mobile segment with its rumored iPhone nano. [more]

Vindu Goel agrees:

The gPhone rumors have gotten stronger and more credible over the last couple of days with complementary reports ... that said they had details about Google’s wireless phone plans.
Personally, I’d love to see a robust gPhone that does voice, Web surfing, Gmail and Outlook mail well. It needs to have a removable battery — a fatal flaw of the iPhone — and work on fast celllular broadband networks as well as WiFi. Ideally, there would be versions for multiple carriers. If Google could pull all that off — and make the gPhone cheap to boot — I’d seriously consider buying one. [more]

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Around the Net Around Computerworld Previously in IT Blogwatch

And finally... The making of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email:

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