There Really Might Be a Google Phone. No Seriously!

[qi:gigaom_icon_google-android] We’ve gone back and forth on the existence of a Google phone for a long time now. In the beginning, there was a talk of a Google Phone that turned out to be Android, Google’s mobile operating system targeting handset makers such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung. Now there is word that Google might actually be looking to make its own handset. Again! This comes from Ashok Kumar, a veteran technology analyst with Northeast Securities. In a note to his clients, Kumar notes that “Google is expected to launch a self branded -smartphone by year end followed by –netbook (sic) early next year.”

According to Kumar, Google will embed the same iteration of Android as the one currently being used in the Motorola Droid and the device will be based on Qualcomm baseband chips. Google will also introduce its own branded netbook, again embedding Qualcomm Snapdragon, early next year. Acer, one of the largest PC makers in the world, recently said that it would be making an Android-based smartphone and a netbook.

About six months ago, I heard that Google had been extremely conflicted over its desire to make a Google phone. I’ve spoken to some of my sources, who have indicated that Google wants to do its own phone in order to better integrate its services. But at the same time it didn’t want to tee off its partners.

It would be a very curious move for Google, considering that Android is finally building up the momentum it needs to take on more established rivals such as RIM, Nokia and Apple. The decision to make its own branded device would certainly sow seeds of dissension in the Android camp. Already there are fears of too many flavors of Android causing confusion in the market. The handset makers who are betting the farm on Android, Motorola for instance, must feel double-crossed.

We called Google’s spokespeople to ask about the company’s plans and got this response: “Unfortunately, we do not comment on market rumor or speculation.” My view is that even if Google makes this device, success isn’t assured. Google, for all its success in online advertising and search, has yet to prove that it can build a product-centric infrastructure like, say, Microsoft and Apple. Google, in fact, would be fighting its own corporate structure.

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