Searching for Google phone answers
As a veritable advertising war wages on US soil over Apple's iPhone and Motorola's Droid, Google may be preparing to open its own Western front with a fully-branded phone of its own.
Rumours have been flying around about a Google phone for months, and it turns out the whisperings are indeed correct and the device should be tipping up early in 2010.
Word is that Google will sell the phone both directly and through various retailers, but there are differing opinions regarding which manufacturer will be making the device at Google's behest. Three of the strongest contenders are HTC, LG or Samsung, which already makes quite a few bits and bobs for Apple's iPhone.
Whichever manufacturer makes the device will hardly be important as Google plans to take complete brand and device ownership, dictating each and every last feature, from the Android operating system to whether or not it is even defined as a "phone".
Some believe Google will attempt to differentiate by coming out with a data-only, VoIP-driven device, allowing people to make voice calls over their data service. Google could also use its Google Voice service that issues users phone numbers and can act as a VoIP service.
Google, too, has already hinted it plans to expand on Google Voice, something which must have mobile carriers quaking in their boots.
If the speculation is true, it would effectively mean punters could settle for a data-only plan, doing away with expensive packages of "minutes" and SMS, which Google Voice does for free, incidentally.
But who would be interested in partnering with Google on such a carrier crippling deal? Some surprisingly point to Google's recent nemesis AT&T, rumoured to already be bidding for Google's attention and business.
It's thought AT&T might sell the Internet giant a data plan for $20 a month, a deal which would cut even the cheapest of mobile plans in the US down by half.
But if Verizon and T-Mobile have any sense, they'll also be eagerly waiting to jump on the Google phone bandwagon. After all, if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em.