Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Google phone revealed

It's real, it's spectacular, but it's not what you think
Mike Elgan

You've heard that Google is working on a cell phone everyone is calling the Google Phone. And you've also heard that they're not working on one. Well, which is it?

The "evidence" is compelling in both cases:

* A pervasive rumor suggests that Google operates a secret lab staffed with 100 engineers and led by former Apple executive, Andy Rubin, the designer of the Sidekick mobile gadget who now works for Google.

* The U.K.'s Guardian reported late last year that Google held talks with Orange, the giant European carrier owned by France Telecom, on a "multibillion-dollar" deal involving a co-branded cell phone made by Taiwan's HTC.

* Recently, someone claimed in an online post to have taken part in a market research survey in which he was asked questions about a possible Google phone made by Samsung. The poster says the phone bill for this device would be subsidized by advertising.

* Google's top executive in Spain, Isabel Aguilera, told Noticias.com that "some of our engineers' time is dedicated to the development of a mobile phone," according to a translation on the Ars Technica Web site.

* Venture capitalist Simeon Simeonov of Polaris Venture Partners blogged recently that Google is working on a "BlackBerry-like device" code-named Switch, powered by an operating system and optimized Java that supports voice over IP.

* Nomura analyst Richard Windsor reportedly told clients last week that Google confirmed at CeBIT that it's working on a phone designed to "bringing Google to users who don't have a PC."

All that sounds pretty convincing. But other facts suggest that Google is not working on a handset:

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