Google Phone: Another Day, Another Sighting

A second report of a Google-branded mobile phone has emerged online, possibly vindicating TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, who made a similar claim in mid-November, not to mention earlier whispers from other sources. The latest rumor is courtesy of Gizmodo's Mark Wilson, who reported Monday that a new "Google Phone" will run a new and improved version of the Android operating system:

"Over the next few weeks, Google Phones (most probably in early, prototype form) will flood the Mountain View campus. They'll don large LCDs while running a new version of Android—either Flan or the version of Android beyond it—which our source spotted running on Google's handset as well as a laptop. (Whatever the software was, it most certainly wasn't Chrome OS, we were assured.)"

Gizmodo's "trusted source" has seen the Google Phone and says it's a "certainty," the report states. Though scant on specifics, the latest rumor does parallel TechCrunch's more detailed speculation two weeks ago. Arrington predicted that a slim Google-branded handset, built by Taiwanese cell phone giant HTC, would appear in early 2010. Then again, he also said the vaporous CrunchPad was a sure thing, and we know what happened there.

Where There's Smoke?

Given that Google Phone reports keep popping up from a variety of sources, there may indeed be something to this rumor. TheStreet.com in October stated that Google was developing an unlocked phone, according to Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumor, and that usual suspect HTC could be the manufacturer. The story also claimed the search giant was building its own line of Chrome OS netbooks.

So, what's to make of this scuttlebutt? The logic behind a Google-branded phone seems dubious, particularly after the search giant has finally persuaded a large number of top-tier handset makers, including HTC and Motorola, to use its Android software.

An aggressive move to compete directly with its hardware partners doesn't make a lot of sense, particularly if Google's ultimate goal is to establish Android as the Windows OS of mobile devices. A Google-branded phone is akin to Microsoft launching its own line of PCs.

Google thus far has made some pretty smart moves with its Android strategy. A Google Phone wouldn't be among them.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci ) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com .

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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