Called the Nexus One, the Google phone is coming in January 2010 after Google admitted it had given employees devices to test. The Android operating system device resembles the unlocked HTC Touch, runs Android 2.1 on a Snapdragon chip and has two microphones. There is also reportedly voice to text features for the phone. Google crafted and customized the smartphone's software and will sell the device online. This is a leap for Google, which has never sold hardware and has been content to furiously upgrade the Android OS and let carriers T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and Sprint sell Android phones.
The Google phone is real, and it is coming in January 2010 to challenge
Apple's vaunted iPhone, according to a deluge
press reports in the wake of Google's acknowledgment that a special device with
new mobile features and functionality is being tested by its employees.
The Android operating system-based device, which people are calling Nexus
One, resembles the unlocked HTC Touch,
lacking a physical keyboard. It is also apparently larger and thinner than those
devices, perhaps coming close to the screen size of the Motorola Droid phone.
The device runs
Android 2.1 (the Droid runs Android 2.0) on a Snapdragon chip
and has two microphones. There is also reportedly voice to text features for
the phone. The Unlockr has pictures of the device here
Google ignited an avalanche of coverage when it gave devices to employees
Friday for dogfooding, part of the company's test process for soliciting
feedback and suggestions. TechCrunch uncovered
from Google employees who raved about the device, even when
they were not supposed to discuss it.
"A friend from Google showed me the new Android 2.1 phone from HTC
coming out in Jan," wrote
the GreatWhiteSnark in a poetic tweet
. "A sexy beast. Like an iPhone
on beautifying steroids."
Google felt compelled to respond to questions about this so-called Google
phone, a device the company is creating with a hardware partner but is selling
itself as a GSM phone independent of carrier help, Dec. 12.
Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management at Google, wrote in a company blog post
"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."
This wouldn't be the first time Google has offered such devices. Google began selling
for $399 a year ago this month to let programmers test and debug Android
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, confirmed previous reports and added some details
(paywall warning), confirming that it is an HTC-built
smartphone upon which Google crafted and customized the software and will sell online.
This is a leap for Google, which has never sold hardware and has been
content to upgrade the Android OS and let carriers T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless
and Sprint sell Android phones. That Google is allegedly eschewing the carrier
crutch marks a bold step for the company.
Experts believe Google is doing this because Android is fragmenting-too many
operating systems and custom firmware builds-and Google wants to make a device
with which it is completely satisfied. Om Malik wrote
"Google's decision to release a device shows that the company is
worried about the fear of fragmentation of the Android ecosystem that we have
often talked about. By putting its stake in the ground, the company is hoping
that it doesn't make the mistake that Microsoft made by dragging its feet in
releasing Zune and ceding the market to Apple's iPod. The iPhone, despite the
issues with AT&T's pokey 3G network, as very eloquently pointed out by
Verizon in its ads, continues to sell like a monster. Google doesn't have much
time and needs to respond fast."
Others say Google wants to "own" the device because carriers hew
to the competition and can get downright Draconian about what features run on
devices they sell.
For example, the Google phone is expected
to feature the company's Google Voice phone management
application. Verizon has said it would support Google Voice, though Apple
rejected it from running on its iPhone, which is sold exclusively by AT&T.
Experts expect the iPhone to appear on other carrier networks in 2010; a
Google phone such as the Nexus One could facilitate that move.