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Tweets leaked revealing Google was crafting a new phone.  (Source: Gizmodo)

A leaked pic shows a curvy phone similar to the iPhone or a curvier HTC Hero.  (Source: Boy Genius Report)

Another leaked picture shows the GPhone. With hardware by HTC and software/OS by Google, the phone will feature a fast Snapdragon processor, GSM, and retail unlocked. It is reportedly named the Nexus One.  (Source: The Unlocked)
Company has given its employees "GPhones" to test drive

When Google announced that it was getting into the phone business, many expected that it was going to release the long rumored "GPhone", a high-tech smart phone akin to the iPhone.  The company surprised everyone when it instead released a smart phone operating system, Android.

Now knee-deep in the smart phone industry, Google has gained much in terms of experience.  While the first implementations of Android saw some mild enthusiasm, multi-touch ready Android 2.0 handsets like the Motorola Droid, available on Verizon in the U.S., are gaining even more traction.  One key to why Google's experiment has worked -- somewhat -- is that most of the hardware it uses is high-end enough so that cross-platform apps are feasible.

However, in a surprising decision the company is reportedly preparing to complete a complete 180, returning to the original rumored "GPhone" and looking to make it the foundation of its smart phone business.  The pivotal difference is that with the GPhone Google looks to write the majority of the software and tune the phone's experience, not just make the OS, as it has previously done. 

Rumors first cropped up when some loose-lipped Google engineers spilled the beans on Twitter.  Writes Google employee with Twitter s/n "identica", "Stuck in mass traffic leaving work post last all hands of 2009.  ZOMG we all had fireworks and we all got the new Google phone.  Its beautiful."

The phones handed out were reportedly unlocked.  A friend of another Googler, going by the s/n "GreatWhiteShark" chimes in, "A friend from Google showed me the Android 2.1 phone from HTC coming out in Jan.  A sexy beast.  Like an iPhone on beautifying steroids."

Google confirmed the reports, writing in its mobile blog that it was following an "eating your own dogfood" approach and testing "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.

Now more details are spilling out about what may be a huge launch for Google.  The new phone is reportedly named Nexus One.  Photos have leaked courtesy of Boy Genius Report and The Unlocked.  They show a curvaceous phone with one large button (similar to the iPhone's) and four smaller buttons in the screen margin.  The phone basically looks like a cross between an iPhone and a more curvy HTC Hero.

Reportedly the phone is powered by a Snapdragon processor.  Developed by Qualcomm, demoed chips featured speeds of 1 GHz or faster.  The latest chip, the QSD8672 featured dual cores running at 1.5 GHz with integrated HSPA+, GPS, Bluetooth, high definition video recording and playback, Wi-Fi and mobile TV technologies (MediaFLO, DVB-H and ISDB-T).  It is unknown which variant of Snapdragon Google will use (the Toshiba TG01 smart phone was the first mobile phone to use the 1 GHz variant).  The GPhone is also rumored to be packed with a OLED touchscreen (no keyboard) and dual mics for killing background noise.

The phone will feature GSM -- meaning it will work with AT&T or T-Mobile networks in the U.S.  Reportedly the phone will only be retailing unlocked, setting a tough standard that may give Apple, and others who have opted for an exclusive carrier, a headache.

Reportedly the phone will also get an even-more-refined version Google's voice-driven search, one of the hottest features on the Droid phone.  Google is eager to get users searching on Android handsets as more and more traffic shifts online.  The foundation of Google's business is advertising, and with mobile phones becoming increasing ad-ready Google feels the time is now to strike. 

In November Google purchased AdMob Inc., a mobile advertising firm.  Google hopes that its hardware and software efforts will give it a unique edge in a market that's expected to reach $2-3B USD by 2009.

A Google phone could come at a pivotal time for the company's mobile efforts.  Microsoft, struggling in the mobile industry, will soon launch its own first-party phones, dubbed "Pink".  And a summer iPhone refresh Apple seems like a safe bet.  Can Google crash these competitors' parties with a GPhone?  That remains to be seen, but we're sure watching carefully to see how this one develops.

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The dawn of a new era?
By xKeGSx on 12/14/2009 11:27:14 AM , Rating: 0
On another note. If Google pulls this off I am very interested to see how the wireless market changes. If Google can get this phone in at $300 or lower and with LTE unifying all of the networks, minus Sprint, with the 4th generation of wireless technology, it will be interesting to see wireless companies business models shifting from locking you into lengthy contracts to offset phone subsidies and instead competing on service only, and the price of that service. Consumers would also be able to buy new phones at their leisure instead of waiting until the end of their contracts to avoid paying 600 dollars for a new phone and signing yet another 2 year contract. Prices for plans should drop drastically, talking MetroPCS levels and family data packages will become the norm soon enough, instead of payin 30 dollars per line which adds up.

Thank you Google. Although you may turn into big brother one day, like you already aren't ;) we needed a company like you with its vast resources to drive a stake into the wireless market and shake it up a bit. Great for the consumer as long as these unsubsidized phones can come in at prices we're used to now with our contracts.

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By mcnabney on 12/14/2009 1:22:36 PM , Rating: 4
You clearly don't understand the wireless market at all.

99% of US consumers would rather pay little (or nothing) now in exchange for a service contract. I know Verizon will sell you a phone at full retail without a service contract, but hardly anyone ever does this. Consider a service contract to be the same as 'free financing' offered by numerous other market categories. At least the termination fees have started dropping over time.

And you cannot compare MetroPCS or Cricket to the large national wireless providers. You might as well wonder why BMWs and Mercedes aren't dropping down to $15k because of the Nissan Versa. They are operated in fundamentally different ways. LTE should develop some new pricing tactics for data and VoIP, but don't expect a very drastic change. Wireless networks are amazingly difficult and expensive to buy spectrum, deploy equipment, and maintain service.

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By xKeGSx on 12/14/2009 1:48:24 PM , Rating: 3
You're clearly an ass who can't add to something without making an insulting remark prior to it.
Did the line "if you can get the phones at prices we're used to with our contracts" just slip passed you? And the MetroPCS reference was just an example of a price point..
Geeze I know you may disagree with my comments, but it was just me typing what I thought. Put down the pot of coffee and step away.

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By xKeGSx on 12/14/2009 1:59:51 PM , Rating: 5
Furthermore, the Nexus One hardly looks like a "Nissan Versa" of a phone and I'd seriously doubt Google selling the phone for what we'd typically pay for a phone without a contract. It's going to come in at a price point that we're used to when a new iPhone comes out, probably $300.
And MetroPCS isn't a Nissan Versa either. It's more like getting a burger at a regional burger chain rather than McDonald's, Wendy's etc. You still end up with a 6 dollar value meal and the service can be as good or better you just can't get that regional burger everywhere. But for many people good service in their region is all they need. Hence MetroPCS still continuing as a business. I wouldn't have made my comment if Google was releasing a piece of crap but the fact that they're releasing a AAA phone without a contract, and you know it will be priced reasonably, really could shake up how the wireless market works.

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By Keeir on 12/14/2009 2:59:25 PM , Rating: 2
We can all hope

In the US, it is difficult (not impossible) to get independent devices onto Sprint and Verizon and likely will still be after the LTE transition.


The following reasons:
Control over Phone Content
Control over Phone Review
Control over Phone Functionality
Control over Phone Consumption of Resources

Telecon companies do not want to reduce the advantage of controlling devices that access thier networks.

US consumers want to pay as little as possible.

Unless an unlocked device can perform the same as a device costing 2 or 3 times to make, Unlocked devices are -not- going to catch on without significant change elsewhere. (IE Google Phone + LTE won't do it alone). I just can't concieve of a phone selling for profit that can beat the Iphone in functionality at a reasonable price in comparison to the ATT subsidy one.

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By xKeGSx on 12/14/2009 3:35:47 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, a respectful reply. Thanks.
I'm going to continue on with this because I like good conversation and hopefully I get your opinion on the matter.
I don't think we're giving Google enough credit here, as I don't think they would dive into something without thinking they had a chance to make sales and an impact on the market.
If none of the national companies allow this phone on their service for whatever reason, contract, terms of use, etc. I can see Google bringing up a lawsuit stating that it is not only unfair to disallow independent devices on a company's network. They may use any one of the often used cries; freedom of choice, consumer acts, monopoloistic practices, etc. And with Congress constantly re-evaluating how "fair" wireless companies are to their concumers I think there may be more than a few congressman and judges willing to back any lawsuit Google brought up against wireless providers if it would make their practices seemingly more consumer friendly.
On the other hand, if only one company jumps on board than that's all Google needs. Once the "bring your own phone" and "no contract necessary" commercials start popping up from a major carrier every other one will follow suit eventually.
Lastly, wireless providers can still have their contracts but in ways TV companies have now. Sign up for two years and get our service for 39.99 a month instead of 59.99 a month. After that you go month-to-month at the no contract rate or sign another contract.

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By xKeGSx on 12/14/2009 3:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
Many trivial typos. Sorry.

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By icrf on 12/14/2009 11:06:00 PM , Rating: 2
Everything hinges on getting lower non-subsidized pricing from carriers who aren't used to it. Buy an iPhone for $200 with 2-year contract with AT&T at $70/mo. What is the monthly rate after 2 years, keeping the same old phone? Assuming it's appreciably lower, can that price be had with BYOH?

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By Veerappan on 12/17/2009 4:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
TextWhat is the monthly rate after 2 years, keeping the same old phone?

Same as the contract rate. The monthly price doesn't go down after your contract expires, but it doesn't go up either (I have the original iPhone and am still paying $20/month for my data plan, as opposed to those with the 3G and 3GS paying $30/month).

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By cochy on 12/14/2009 4:40:59 PM , Rating: 2
If it's ad-driven then Google might sell the phone unlocked for next to nothing. They can afford to do it, and would increase their market share quite nicely.

RE: The dawn of a new era?
By keith524 on 12/14/2009 8:00:27 PM , Rating: 2
The reality is that phone hardware is only about half the cost of a typical phone. For instance the iPhone 3GS 16GB was estimated to cost $178 to manufacture, granted this doesn't cover design, marketing, and profit. That price was in June so it's likely cheaper today. (estimated by iSuppli)

If we assume Google is more interested in getting Android into the market than making money off the hardware (I think that's their plan but I'm not sure) then they will keep the price as close to the manufacturing price as possible. So a $200-$300 price tag isn't out of the question.

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