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Dec 16

Christmas Comes Early at Google

Christmas came early for Google employees this past weekend when Google handed out the “Google Phone”, an HTC-built device called the Nexus One.  Google calls the distribution a “mobile lab” and it puts to rest rumors that have been swirling for two years about a Google phone, but it also brings into question Google's previous assurances that they would not compete with Android hardware manufacturers. 

The Google phone is unlocked and AT&T-ready and has been confirmed to be running Android 2.1 -- the first Android device to be running this build.  The device has been described as an iPhone with a little extra screen, a scroll wheel, a great touch screen, and Android.  Unsubstantiated reports claim the Google phone will be an unlocked GSM device that Google will sell directly to customers with no wireless carrier subsidy, and the device could go on sale as early as January. 

It is never a wise choice to bet against Google but being able to sell a mobile phone without carrier subsidy in today's hyper-competitive mobile market is definitely going to be a challenge.  If the phone does come to market, and all expectations are that it will, the big question is how will its release impact the Android platform if Google competes with other Android handset manufacturers, while controlling the code base.  The Android platform holds tremendous promise and it is starting to gain serious traction with other handset manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Motorola so hopefully Google's entry into the handset market does not jeopardize these relationships.  The code base for the OS versions of the Google handset will need to be readily available to the community at large in order to maintain Google's appearance of transparency and recent reports of Android 2.1 already being ported to G2 handsets is an encouraging sign.  Google remember “Don't be Evil”.

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