India’s Rediff.com cites unnamed sources to assert that a Google-branded phone may be “a fortnight away” (two weeks). There have been lots of rumors about a “GPhone” for months. They run the gamut from specialized software development, to a Google MVNO to a Google handset.
Here’s what the Rediff article contends:
Sources close to the development said a simultaneous launch across the US and Europe is expected, and announcements would be sent to media firms in India and other parts of the world. US regulatory approval, which is expected soon, is the only hurdle that Google is waiting to cross, they added. Google plans to invest $7-8 billion for its global telephony foray.
What is clear is that Google is being extremely aggressive in mobile and the company is not going to stay where it is. I would be quite surprised if Google were to present itself as an MVNO, however. Unless such a service were totally or almost totally ad-subsidized (something CEO Eric Schmidt has suggested is possible) few people are likely to switch carriers. But such a move has a high probably of failure for numerous reasons.
While more Google software for mobile devices is a given, it’s possible that some version of a Google-branded phone will appear. It’s also possible that Google will pursue multiple strategies in parallel.
Like many others, Google recognizes that the thing standing between it and mobile ad revenue is a generally bad user experience and the way that holds back user adoption of mobile data (beyond text). That recognition is partly what motivated GOOG411, the company’s free directory assistance alternative.