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Five Facts About Google Phone

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Is Google (GOOG) Phone fact or fiction? Engadget says Google’s entry into mobile phone business is for real, and the company is going to announce it soon. Scott Kirsner talked to a bunch of folks over who are intimately familiar with the effort and outlined his findings in an article for The Boston Globe.

The story talks about a handful of Boston entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who have seen the phone, but are under NDA and can’t talk about it. Rich Miner, a co-founder of Android, a mobile software company he started with Andy Rubin (formerly of Danger) is based in Boston.

Google bought Android in August 2005. Later Google snapped up Reqwireless and Skia, two tiny start-ups with mobile expertise, and since then has been hiring mobile-focused folks at a pretty steady clip. [digg=]

The news (or rumors) were enough to get me dialing-for-dirt over the big holiday weekend. These are the tidbits I picked up from a reliable source:

1. Google Phone is based on a mobile variant of Linux, and is able to run Java virtual machines.
2. All applications that are supposed to run on the Google Phone are java apps. The OS has ability to run multimedia files, including video clips.
3. The user interface is similar to a UI typical of mobile phones, and the image (with red background) floating around isn’t representative of the Google Phone UI. The entire UI is said to be done in Java and is very responsive. The UI, of course has a “search box.”
4. There is a special browser which has pan-and-browse features that are common to modern browsers such as browsers for iPhone and Symbian phones. The entire browser is apparently written in Java. But then others have told us that the browser is based on the WebKit core, the same engine in Safari and in iPhone, and Google has been  making optimizations to speed it up. This is one aspect of the Google Phone I am not sure about.
5. Initially there was one prototype, but over past few months Google has the mobile OS running on 3-to-5 devices, most of them likely made by HTC, a mobile phone maker, and all have Qwerty apps. The model that folks have seen is very similar to the T-Mobile Dash. Around 3GSM, there were rumors that Google, Orange and HTC were working together on mobile devices.

These tiny-bits of information are pretty close to what Simeon Simenov, a VC with Polaris Venture Partners had very clearly outlined on his blog eons ago. I can’t seem to find that post, so here is is an alternate link. Simenov also wrote a pretty good post on what should be an ideal mobile stack. Google is pretty close to what Simenov had outlined.

We will post more details as they come our way. I had initially thought that it could be a more viable option to the $100 PC. While that argument still remains true, I think this is a strategic move by Google to keep Windows Mobile’s growing influence in check. Microsoft has spent billions on its mobile efforts including buying companies such as Tell Me Networks.

135 Responses to “Five Facts About Google Phone”

  1. Rich the rich


    Google will buy Sun Microsystems. Anyone else wonder why Sun changed its stock ticker symbol from SUNW to Java? Could it be “neutralization” of the name (from Sun) so as to reinforce the java aspect of the company? A likely reason, of course, however: WHY.

    Could be some interesting developments for Sun and Google.

  2. What have they rolled out besides search that they own the market on? My bet is against googol on a phone…they have yet to get software right, now they want to focus on something they have no clue about.

  3. This thing will be polluted with ads, Ads are Googles life blood and everything they do is targeted at expanding their control of digital advertising. Only now Google will know who you CALL! and they will serve you ads based not on just your web browsing but on businesses you call.

  4. Shakir Razak


    It looks more of a strategic play like youtube and double-click were meant.

    I don’t think that google is that bothered about selling physical hardware and a decent margin, but more as an enabler and introducer (seeding) of developmental infrastructure into the environment of the google mobile eco-space.

    With so many aspects/components actually being software based, and wi-fi not being unique, I think that this phone is being introduced for focussing marketing hype and as a reference platform, but the whole point of so much java is actually for anyone to be able to download a single environment that will play on any phone that has java, with other handset providers/developers having the gphone (& compatibility) in mind when creating their work.

    I also think that as google rarely cares about the up-front, and has always been about the intersection between search and commerce, they might be willing to literally give away the whole bundle to the commodity manufacturers of the developing world whose products inevitably end up here -just as happened with low cost DVD-players!

    Microsoft’s trojan-horse strategy sophisticated by at least 4 (inc. diffusion).

    Yours kindly,

    Shakir Razak

    like to know what others think of this idea…..

  5. I like the idea of a Google Phone, and it might be a market niche for it, specially if they keep it simpler than the iphone. A lot of people don’t want music and camera on a mobile phone but they will like to have a descent access to the internet.

  6. Guruprasad V

    If you’re in everything, it means you’re doing nothing. Hopefully Google shouldn’t enter into this biz. They should concentrate on what they’re known for. They would rather try to enter into tie-ups with manufacturer than coming on their own. Already corporate America has learnt hell lot of lessons. If Google would like to be adamant like IBM, then we knew the history of IBM. This would exactly happen for Google.

  7. You have to wonder why they bothered if that’s all they’ve done. What will be really interesting is the OS. Can developers access it and add new apps. If not – then I’m not sure why I need one, unless it’s incredibly cheap to make a call.

  8. I would also assume that an application framework for developers would be included at some stage – like the GWT. Google would definitely like to encourage developers to write apps quickly to its mobile platform, and looking at the mobile widget space – I could guess that google gadgets are likely to be ported in the gphone somehow.