Engadget is running two supposed photographs of the still-mythical Googlephone–which has been a rumored Google project for at least a year–but skeptics say it’s just a Photoshopped video iPod. I couldn’t agree more.
Google is certainly interested in mobile phones–it began testing mobile AdWords last year in eight countries, launched a real-time traffic data service, launched Gmail for mobile, and at CES demonstrated how Google Maps would work on the Apple iPhone. Google is also interested in providing more of its applications to carrier handsets in the name of extending Google’s service and selling carrier data plans. And CEO Eric Schmidt thinks that mobile phones should eventually be free if users accept targted ads. Google is also partnered with several carriers, including Samsung, Vodafone and Sprint.
But a Googlephone to rival Apple’s iPhone? There’s certainly no shortage of rumors. In April of last year, Schmidt hinted that Google might buy wireless spectrum, though that never happened. In December the UK’s Observer reported that UK carrier Orange was interested in developing a co-branded handset with Google software that would improve mobile Web access times.
Google’s moves in the mobile market–not to mention in other markets where it’s selling ads–show a company solidly on course to provision ads, not deploy hardware (exception: servers). I don’t see a revolutionary Googlephone landing on the market anytime soon, just like there’s no revolutionary Google desktop computer. Let’s leave the beautiful products to Apple (on the board of which Schmidt sits) and leave Google to partner with every carrier, provide the ad-serving technology, and watch the profits roll in.