The search giant has played down speculation that ‘Nexus One’ will be the first Google smartphone, but rumours of a 2010 launch persist
Speculation is mounting that Google may release its own handset in 2010 to go head-to-head with Apple’s iPhone in the mobile phone market. The search giant has confirmed that selected employees are testing a new device, but some analysts are sceptical that a ‘Google Phone’ is imminent.
Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management, seemed to lift the lid on a ‘Google Phone’ in a blog last weekend when he confirmed that the search giant’s employees are testing “a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities”.
However, the blog stopped short of committing the company to a handset launch, arguing instead that Google was merely “eating its own dogfood” in conducting the trial. “We hope to share more after our dogfood diet,” said Mr Queiroz.
A move into handsets would represent a major departure for Google from its normal software and services. Until now, the company has concentrated on launching its Android operating system on mobile devices made by a number of companies, including Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG.
Ben Wood, research director at CCS Insight, argued that the chance of a ‘Google Phone’ hitting shops any time soon is remote. He pointed out that previous speculation linking Google to PC or laptop launches has proved wide of the mark, as the company was merely working on application development.
“It’s unlikely at this stage, but you should never rule out an audacious move from Google. They are too canny to get into the hardware business right now. Software and services is a great place to be,” Mr Wood said.
Nevertheless, the leaked news of a trial device has led some experts to suggest that Google may make a bold move as soon as January. The device is called the ‘Nexus One’, a reference to the line of ‘replicants’ in the influential sci-fi film Bladerunner, and an echo of the ‘Android’ brand. The touch-screen device, made by the Taiwanese handset manufacturer HTC, is based on the Snapdragon chip developed by Qualcomm, and is slightly thinner than the iPhone.
Some reports suggest that Google is preparing to sell the unlocked and unsubsidised device in the US directly through its site. However, other reports link T-Mobile’s US unit and AT&T with the device.