updated 03:30 pm EDT, Tue October 20, 2009
Google may build own smartphone
Intending to take control of its phone experience, Google may be readying its own Android phone and a computer to go with it, multiple sources said on Tuesday. Analyst Ashok Kumar of Northeast Securities claims in a research note that it's expected Google will launch a self-branded phone before the end of the year and could follow that up with a netbook in early 2010. Both would use Android 2.0, but the smartphone would use a regular Qualcomm cellular chipset while the netbook would use Qualcomm's high-speed Snapdragon processor.
GigaOM clarifies the report by adding sources of its own that contend Google has been interested in developing its own Android phone but has only held off to avoid upsetting handset makers using its platform. While it would like to more tightly integrate its online services with a phone, Google is concerned that HTC, Samsung and others would regard a self-branded device as an unfair advantage.
Google has neither confirmed nor denied the report and says only that it doesn't comment on rumors.
Analysts in the past have been known to make inaccurate forecasts based on limited information, and it's unclear at this point whether Kumar's report refers to an actual, separate device or simply one of Google's more closely developed projects. Those Android phones that have the full help of the company are often branded as "with Google" products and are known to include the Motorola Droid, which ships next month. Google is believed to have co-designed the phone itself and consequently may see the Droid as its own project instead of just a third-party's device.
A Google-made Android phone would further intensify competition between the developer and Apple. As a software-only firm, Google has had the flexibility to provide features to Apple without directly impacting its own software. Investing in hardware would create a more direct conflict of interest and would further justify Google chief Eric Schmidt's decision to resign from Apple's board, a move originally prompted by the unveiling of Chrome OS.