Meet Your New Mobile Partner and Rival, Google

For companies like Symbian, AT&T and Sprint, a Google phone could disrupt the mobile market.

A mobile phone from Google would enable the search market leader to better tap into what researcher IDC claims will be a $2 billion market opportunity for mobile advertising by 2011. It would also change the mobile phone, operating system and services markets for the current crop of potential Google partners and rivals.

Asked Oct. 10 about Googles plans for a mobile phone or operating system, David Wood, executive vice president of Research for smart-phone operating system leader Symbian, headquartered in London, said Symbian comes across a lot of information about its partners plans and projects but keeps it under lock and key.

However, Wood pointed out that Google is still a platinum partner of Symbian, which shares its software kits with the search vendor. In fact, Google officials will participate in Symbians Smartphone Show in London the week of October 15, he said.

But what if Google released a device that didnt use the Symbian operating system?

This would induce a cooperative competition arrangement. Wood said he envisioned the relationship would be similar to Symbians partnership with Research In Motion, which enables RIMs BlackBerry e-mail and other services to run on Symbian-based smart phones.

"I expect that whatever happens in announcements over the next months or years that Google will want its services to continue to be available to the hundreds of millions of people that using Symbian OS phones," Wood told eWEEK.


To read more about rumors that Google is working on a mobile phone, click here.

Asked what Google is doing with Symbians software kits, Wood declined to give specifics, but said the company is interested in "getting its information available to as many eyeballs as possible as much of the time as possible."

He added, "We see the same trends as [Google CEO] Eric Schmidt has pointed out, that mobile phones, especially the smarter mobile phones, will increasingly be peoples entry point into the overall world of information."

For example, Wood pointed to an article in Indias Economic Times saying that the number of users of the mobile Web in India exceeded the numbers of desktop Web users by four to one.

Woods comments, though general in nature, intimate a familiarity with Googles plans. However, few other vendors directly involved in the space proved as candid.

Spokespeople for phone service providers AT&T and Sprint told eWEEK they would not comment on "another companys plans" and "competitive devices," respectively. A spokesperson for handheld maker Palm declined comment until Google announces something, and phone maker Motorola refused comment.

That doesnt mean vendors in the space dont have their curiosities piqued.

A spokesperson for a major phone maker told eWEEK he has asked around about a Google phone and, failing to find out anything concrete, declined to comment on a "device that may or may not be coming."


Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.