Google's Phone: Rumors, Facts and Speculation

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What we don’t know

  • Is it transcendent? Or at least significantly better than the best Android phone to date, Verizon’s Droid? A Googlephone that’s modestly better than the competition is going to be a disappointment.

  • How much will it cost? If Google is simply selling it unlocked and trying to make a profit the old fashioned way–by charging more for the hardware than it costs to make–this phone is almost certainly going to cost $500 or more.

  • Does Google have some radical business model up its sleeve? If the user interface involved Google ads, might it sell the handset at a remarkably low price–or at least one similar to what you’d pay a carrier for a phone on a two-year contract–and make its profit through the commercial messages you’re exposed to?

  • How will Google’s partners feel about a Googlephone? If it’s manufactured by HTC and marketed in part by T-Mobile, they’re okay with it, I guess. But how about Verizon and Sprint and Motorola and Sony Ericsson and Samsung and every other company that’s selling or making Android phones? Will they accept a Googlephone willingly, grumble about it, or punish Google by taking their OS business elsewhere?

  • Can an unlocked, unsubsidized phone be a mainstream hit in the U.S.? I like to buy ‘em myself when possible–I just don’t like committing to a carrier if I can avoid it–but I don’t have a lot of company. Would Google sell a Googlephone that’s a poor-selling niche offering? Or is it going to try to change the way America buys phones?

  • Did Google think it could give Googlephones to vast quantities of its own employees and keep them secret? Or was it all a devious plot to whip up excitement while appearing to keep the phone hush-hush?

  • Is Sascha Segan right? The writer says that everybody’s hyperventilating over what’s probably minor news: this is just a new HTC phone running a new version of Android, and possibly an unsubsidized T-Mobile phone that won’t appeal to many folks.

I still count myself as a supporter of the idea of the Googlephone: I think most of the fresh ideas that’ll change phones over the next few years will come from companies other than the incumbent wireless carriers and hardware manufacturers, and I’d like to see Google’s vision of what a phone can be in its purest form. You gotta figure that another shoe’s going to drop–maybe several of them. At the very latest, I figure we’ll know all by mid-February, when Mobile World Congress, the phone industry’s big show, gets underway in Barcelona.

Any other Googlephone guesses, wishes, or doubts?

This story, "Google's Phone: Rumors, Facts and Speculation" was originally published by Technologizer.

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