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.
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 thoughts on “Five Facts About Google Phone”
It’ll be interesting to see if Google allows users to change search providers; and if not, if Yahoo/MS raise as much of a stink as Google did with Vista.
Any solid word yet on what it might be called? Is GPhone still the most likely bet?
also keep in mind that Google acquired bruNet in DE/CH, a solution provider that developed a WAP/SMS gateway and micropayment platform. all fits nicely into a mobile strategy / Gpay.
DOA. This thing sounds just awful. Java on mobile devices is so lousy.
I am waiting for Gogle phone. My life is more dependant on Google than family.
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.
Great article, thanks for the updated info. I will be following your posts closely. Thanks again and keep up the great work!
Check out my thoughts about the GPhone
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.
I forsee they would have a rich mobile application stack – based on a minimal OSGI stack.
@jd: I take it you own a Moto phone?
(try an SE)
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.
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.
The obvious question: What network(s) will it run on?
“The obvious question: What network(s) will it run on?”
Duh. Have you heard of WiMax?
Please don’t make it look like the T-Mobile Dash. It should look like the iPhone.
Is this Sun’s Java FX Mobile OS, which they acquired from Savage and demo’ed earlier this year?
Sorry, that was Savaje. Interesting Java FX Mobile was pitched as Sun’s answer to the OLPC, so the dots might well be connecting here:
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).
like to know what others think of this idea…..
I personally think the palm centro (12 sept european release) could be the google phone.
So, no Firefox on Google Phone?
jus read on the times of india, that the phone wud fetch for just about a $100, that wud be so cool…
interesting stuff, don’t forget Sun and Google’s little relationship http://www.sun.com/2005-1004/feature/
Google are placed to get involved in the mobile jvm.
I cant wait to see the phone, I would pay for the phone if I can get free monthly service in exchange or ads
One can not have a mobile and network too 😉
Any phone that syncs with all my Google related accounts is fine by me. That would make my life complete.
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.
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.
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.
It doesn’t matter whether Goog is going into hardware or sticking with software – they intend to go after the mobile market – there are too many opportunities there…
Were you able to determine if the Google Phone will have Speech Recognition as an option ?
gphone + gpay + google free wifi networks = ?
Why would Google need VCs? They have enough cash to finance this themselves…
Nice article good info.
it better be fact, and it betterbe with Verizon
Does this mean Google will now dominate the mobile phone business —–> http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=432
GPhone won’t have enough MIPS for real speech reco — that would be the job for the Google POPs.
The REAL big move forward, which all are avoiding, conspicuously, is PUSH Email.
Who, reasonably, wants to pay the horrific cost of Blackberry (£40 per month here in the UK). All this would require is some serious server hard disk space (really cheap now) and something that is not locked on to these blasted telephone service providers who are really just parasitic to the devices and costly to users.
I can’t think why mobile (cell-phone) technology, which is hardly cutting-edge, electronics/chip wise costs so much. It can only be to protect the restrictive markets of the service providers.
If Sergy and Larry are really serious GPush at a cheap cost would massacre Microsoft and give Google immense income ($) and freedom from being locked into providing things which only profit service providers.
Come on. You know you can do it!
Plus, of course, it would bring out the geek in most blokes, a ‘must have’
I think Google Phone can create more buzz and more revenue then iPhone.
would buy it if 1) fast mail 2) fast stock quotes 3) fast search) I don’t give a @$%#
about looking at pictures/videos or having little fish swim around for a screensaver. I want long battery life, fast simple internet.
Maybe bluetooth to put next to lappy and connect that way. Please don’t make it a fashion accseory! Just a practical phone, that is quick for business minded people, not a ‘toy’ also thin, light. don’t want to watch movies just want small phone with email and sopme web access. (Wimax or Rev A EVDO minimum speed that is acceptable) .
You don’t need push e-mail. The GMail concept is all about keeping the e-mail on their server. All you need is push e-mail notification, which can be done in a carrier neutral way using SMS. This type of system would also be more battery efficient than push e-mail.
I’d like to file a bug report on your site: The actual content of this page is less than half of the width of the whole page. This is ridiculous!
Om, WebKit as the browser would be a very interesting move. It would force more consolidation in the market at the expense of Microsoft and to the benefit of Apple. Two smartphones with Webkit would drive future development in the smartphone arena. Apple would not be opposed to the competition because they would figure that the halo effect from an increased popularity of their Safari browser would be the big benefit through more desktop, laptop and iphone sales.
Would be great if the google phone looked like T-Mobile Dash (or Samsung X820, for us in Aus).
But I still don’t like the look of the most recent mockups. I was expecting something more like the old Google Switch mockups.
Like an iphone, but without the chunk factor.
The key point to ask is what’s that one KILLER feature of the Gphone.
Check my views on the subject at http://techtrod.wordpress.com/2007/09/04/the-gphone-whats-the-killer-feature
thanks for the facts on the gphone rumors, i think i have all the info i need for my own blog.
Here’s a recently leaked picture of the Google Phone, looks pretty amazing, they are really staying close to their roots:
a google phone would have the best chance to cross the bridge between paid usage and ads for time model. More credit to Google as they clearly provide value in exchange for service.
A “google phone” that synchs up with my “google computer” and their services. Now that is what I’m waiting to see materialize.
Will never touch windows again, once that happens.
I personally think if Google Yahoo and Microsoft release their own cell hardware it will be over for the big cell companies.
Whomever get’s the deal to build the phone will do pretty well. But remember I had a touch screen iPaq in 2001 that had a full web browser and that didn’t stick. With more people on the net serving social functions, I think it’s the right time for these devices to hit the market!
i think it is waste of technology.
Hey Om – I really liked your post about the Google Phone. In fact, I liked it so much, that I wrote a song about it – See http://blog2song.blogspot.com/2007/09/five-facts-about-google-phone.html
Regarding networks – anyone who thinks it will be WiMax are jumping the gun a little. No WiMax network is currently deployed anywhere (certainly not in the USA). Sprint is the first to do so, theirs will be open for business in 12-15 markets throughout 2008. Even if Google were to build their own (over the, presumably, newly acquired 700 MHz spectrum), it will not be available until 2009-2010 at the earliest. The Google Phone is being made NOW, way before any of these offerings. Also, it is being made available internationally, where WiMax deployments are a mixed bag, at best.
I think we know that the initial version of the phone, at least, would support GSM (because of the agreements with Orange and Vodafone). For the US market, that means an agreement with AT&T/Cingular or T-Mobile (and not Sprint/Nextel or Verizon).
Second, GSM probably implies WCDMA (UMTS/HSDPA) 3g/3.5g technologies. In the USA, this means a choice between either AT&T (850/1900 MHz) or T-Mobile (1700 + and off-2100 MHz frequency) – most likely the former. Likely, there will be a second version for the international market (like, for instance, the Motorola RAZR2 v9), sporting the 2100MHz frequency – or else the phone will be tri-band UMTS capable (like the forthcoming Sony-Ericsson k850i).
Finally, it is likely to be Wi-Fi capable. The question will be how well the various Wi-Fi configurations (such as WPA enterprise/PEAP/MSCHAPv2 etc) are supported.
Long term, I have no doubt that Google will ditch both 2G/GSM and 3G/WCDMA technologies in favor of a forthcoming data-centric 4G technology – let’s say WiMax/802.16e for the sake of argument. They are likely to deploy this network over the newly opened 700MHz frequency – which they are trying to bid on, and in either case will have rights to use (given their successful lobbying of the FCC to require this frequency to remain accessible for 3rd parties, no matter who actually wins the bid). Moreover, to the extent that their (2nd/3rd generation) device is still a phone, it will likely be making its calls over VoIP (Google Talk).
Compare with Sprint’s new WiMax network, which will be run by a different division from their current cellular business, and offer $59.99/month subscriptions per person, not per device. One of the first devices that Sprint will offer for this new network is a WiMax-enabled version of the Nokia N800 Internet tablet, which is not a phone at all! (But can be used to make calls over VoIP, using Skype, Google Talk, Jabber, etc).
It seems someone dropped the ball on facts. Google already announced its plans for a phone. Out of their Spain branch. And as for the rumor being only a year old. Obviously another ball dropped. John-Hallerism looks as though its becoming commonplace on the internets now.
Based on the 5 facts, Google better get back to the drawing board and think of more stuff because there is nothing new about this set of apps at all!
They are either keeping the major secret really secret, or there’s nothing special about the Gphone …
there is an update of the facts at:
They also introducing Gpay i mean GooglePay similar to PayPal this might be available for GooglePhone too.
There’s a lot of talk about whether or not the proposed Google phone will kill the cell phone industry. Personally, I can see it making a dent with people who maybe can’t afford regular cell service plans. HOWEVER, there’s no way that I want my cell phone turned into some advertising venue FOR ANYTHING. I get enough garbage in my email – I’m absolutely willing to pay for ad free phone service and so is everyone that I’ve talked to about this. Unless Google offers up a competitive ad free service option, I won’t even consider switching.
You can read about Google phone here:
Google seems to be growing faster than any other company in the world. It would seem only natural for it to spread to cel phones as well.
I would like to stake a prediction that the Google phone will achieve a lot of ‘nice to have’ functionalities but will lack the visual appeal required to take the cell phone market from other competitors. As such, it will lag for a long time in the first-adopters market segment. Moreover, many of the early adopter will be individuals like myself, geeky and looking for the next ‘neat’ gadget.
OpenMoko will still be the first real step towards FREEing your phone. With OpenMoko it will be perfectly possible (out of the box more or less) to move your instant messenger from the phone to your work and home machine (depending on where you are).
The platform and OS on the phone DOES matter. It’s crazy that there are no applications available (or preinstalled) that reports your speed (when going below 30 km/h and volontarily of course) every one minute to some site, which using GPS position and X number of reports instructs other commuters to avoid some road (or part of it) because there’s probably been an accident or something causing a traffic jam.
I want to see more pics of this possible google phone. If anyone has any good ones please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks