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.
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”.