October 21, 2009

Google to Launch Self-Branded Android Phone

In order to spur further growth in the mobile market Google has dedicated a lot of resources to Android, the open-source Linux-based operating system for mobile phones, and the results are starting to be felt with a flurry of new Android-based smartphones hitting the market recently or in the short term future. But it now looks like the company isn't content with letting others build Android phones, as it is apparently close to launching its own device, which should be available at retailers as early as this year.

Google is working with an unnamed smartphone manufacturer and from the details so far it looks like the phone will be one of the most competitive on the market and similar to the highly anticipated Motorola Droid. It may in fact be more powerful than Droid, which is already the fastest Android-powered device to hit the market. The Google phone will sport a Qualcomm processor though it isn't clear if it's going to be one from the Snapdragon family. It will also run the latest version of the Android OS, 2.0, which has so far only made its way into Motorola Droid.

The new phone was revealed by Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar who claims that Google will launch the self-branded phone this year but, in an unexpected though not completely surprising move, the phone will be available unlocked through the retail channel. This comes in stark contrast with the usual way of doing things in the industry as phone makers usually rely on deals with the network operators to sell their phones bundled with a mobile plan.

Not even Apple has been able to move away from this type of deals and it has an infamous exclusive arrangement with AT&T. Google though would prefer to sell the phone without any restrictions to the features and capabilities and is probably one of the few companies that can afford to do so, though the phone's success is far from guaranteed.

What's more, the new Google phone will most likely be available from the mobile carriers too as the search giant has to be careful not to alienate them too much. Google is also in a tricky position with the rest of the phone manufacturers that are using Android, as this puts the company in direct competition with them and there may be worries that it will use its privileged position to favor its own device over the ones from third parties.

Google has been pushing hard into the mobile market recently. As mobile Internet use continues to grow at an accelerated pace, the search giant has its eyes set on the potentially very lucrative market, one that would be a perfect fit for its cloud offerings. The company isn't interested in the devices themselves, which is why it chose to offer Android for free hoping it will spur growth in the mobile space but now it looks like it's taking matters into its own hands to offer an uncompromisable experience, but one that will likely be closely tied to its cloud services and products.



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