Forget iPhone, Think Google Phone

The Observer of London is reporting that Google might be working with HTC and mobile/telecom giant Orange to build a Google Mobile Phone, which could possibly have Google software inside the device, and would be able to do many of the web tasks smartly. The device, article speculates, could go on sale in 2008. (Of course, we would all have forgotten by then… if it doesn’t happen.) Orange and Google, both declined to comment.

Their plans centre on a branded Google phone, which would probably also carry Orange’s logo. The device would not be revolutionary: manufactured by HTC, a Taiwanese firm specialising in smart phones and Personal Data Assistants (PDAs), it might have a screen similar to a video iPod. But it would have built-in Google software which would dramatically improve on the slow and cumbersome experience of surfing the web from a mobile handset.

It would be interesting to see if this comes to fruition. Google, in recent months has become increasingly aggressive about its mobile ambitions, and is pushing into the carrier space, though there have been some snags.

Google Phone, if you think about it is a reasonable speculation. Google has been aggressive in developing location based services, has amp-ed up its local search and mapping services. In addition, it has also been mobilizing its applications such as GTalk and GMail. YouTube, the video arm of Google, is beginning to embrace the mobile ecosystem.

Normally, one would not spend too much energy on this bit of news. However, presence of Andy Rubin on Google campus gives us a reason to pause.

Who is Rubin? He was one of the co-founders of Danger, the company that makes the Sidekick devices. He sold his last company, Android to Google for an undisclosed amount of money, and he has been holed up in Mountain View, California campus of Google, doing something.

No one knows what, but since Android was focusing on mobile, it is safe to assume that he just might be involved in Android. Danger, as you might know has become a multimillion dollar business based off the “compress web and take it mobile” technology developed by Rubin and others. Businessweek had reported that Android was working on a cell phone operating system.

One source familiar with the company says Android had at one point been working on a software operating system for cell phones. …. In a 2003 interview with BusinessWeek, just two months before incorporating Android, Rubin said there was tremendous potential in developing smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner’s location and preferences. “If people are smart, that information starts getting aggregated into consumer products,” said Rubin.

For Orange, this could be a valuable asset in its triple play ambitions. The company owns broadband businesses across Europe, and has access to 3G networks, and is owned by France Telecom. It could use Google’s web expertise to take on its rivals, by offering web-mobile hybrid phones, and at the same time get a slice of mobile advertising revenues. I know, sounds far fetched, but not out of the real of possiblity.

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