Saturday, July 19, 2008

Reports Of A Google gPhone Surface Again

The Google phone lives. Sort of. Maybe. Perhaps. Although it's still not clear that the much-ballyhooed device actually lives at Google facilities.

The latest news on the Google phone stems from some comments made by Google executives at Allen & Company's Sun Valley Conference. A reporter for The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Google executives talked of the company making "its own branded mobile phone as a replacement for the iPhone." The story then took off this week, embellished soon by a report that the Ammunition Design Group could be working with Google to build the "gPhone."

Google hasn't comment on the latest reports. But in the past, Google has dismissed reports that it planned to make its own phone. Instead, the company has promoted its Android program and it's Open Handset Alliance, which bring together several companies said to be working on Android handsets. T-Mobile, for instance, has said it plans to unveil an Android phone by the end of the year.

Many Android developers like the idea of a handset from Google that would compete with Apple's iPhone. Such a project, however, would likely have to pass muster with Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, who also sits on Apple's board of directors. Instead of a Google-branded handset, there's likely to be a number of Android phones from a variety of developers and cellular service providers. In a sense, they will all be Google phones and will feature Google's search engine.

The most precise sighting of the Google phone appeared in the Boston Globe last summer. Various developers and venture capitalists said they had seen the device, which was being developed at Google's Cambridge facility. Users could scroll through icons horizontally and at least one version featured a small tactile QWERTY keyboard rather than a touch screen, the reports said.

A tactile QWERTY keyboard would likely appeal to business IT types, who generally favor the precision of tactile keyboards over touch screen keyboards for e-mail usage.