GPhone: Fact or Fiction?

Written by Phil Cogar

October 9, 2007 | 13:00

Tags: #cell-phone

Companies: #google #open-source

There have been rumours about the GPhone rumbling around the Internet for quite some time. Supposedly, Google has been in the stages of designing a mobile to best all mobiles - even the iPhone. But could all of this be true? According to the NYTimes, it's half right.

Analysts say that while Google has built prototypes of mobiles, the company is not looking to build the latest and greatest gadget on the market but rather building testbeds for a new mobile operating system. The new OS, which is a modified version of Linux, will compete with Microsoft's Windows Mobile.

Expected applications include portable versions of Google Docs, Gmail, Maps, and a bevy of other programs already available from Google. A web browser with Google branding may also make an appearance with the new mobile OS.

Unlike Microsoft, it's expected that Google will not charge mobile manufacturers a licensing fee for the OS. The search giant will instead make money back from advertisements on the mobiles. No details on the advertisement structure are available but will probably use the same methods as other mobile advertising.

The iPhone was a milestone in terms of how people use a mobile device,” said IDC analyst Karsten Weide. “The GPhone, if it does come out, will help Google with distribution for their online services.”

So if an iPhone killing mobile device is out of the question, just why has Google been lobbying rules and possibly vying for the 700MHz frequency spectrum that the FCC will auction off next year? It's actually quite simple, the terms of the auction state that companies must allow open access to devices and software on the frequency. This means that, regardless of which company wins the auction, Google's mobile software will be able to access it.

If you sit back and think about it, it actually makes more sense that Google would be working on a mobile OS rather than trying to develop an iPhone killer. After all, the company has been upping the bar in recently with large corporations migrating to Google Docs from Microsoft Office.

Should Microsoft be worried that Google is starting to close in on a segment of its OS market? Would you be willing to switch over to a Google-based smart phone? Tell us your thoughts over in the forums.
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