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Google Phone – ‘Gphone’ launch rumors

News is abuzz with the report that Google could launch the Gphone within a fortnight. As you may recall, I’d earlier resurrected the rumors of Google working on the “Gbrowser” – their own browser software when I learned they’d recently hired on browser security expert Michal Zalewski. I then reported a confirmation of sorts via a Wall Street Journal report, since Google is apparently working on a mobile phone browser in their Boston offices to go along with a new mobile phone they’re wanting developed.

I have a bit of insider information on this subject that might prove interesting.

Two days ago, at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in San Jose, Marissa Mayer commented on the iPhone, highlighting how well Google applications worked on it, and admiring the rich user-interface features:

Marissa Mayer demos the iPhone
Marissa Mayer, demos the iPhone (click to enlarge)

Photo Copyright © Chris Silver Smith

Obviously, Google executives have a very high admiration for the iPhone, and it’s common knowledge that many of their top engineers are also devoted Apple computer and iPod users.

Some have opined that the proposed Gphone could be intended to compete with the popular iPhone, but there’s some reason to not believe that speculation. Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, is a member of Apple’s board of directors, and the two companies have increasingly been partnering with each other.

According to some sources I have within Apple, only two second-party applications have been allowed on the iPhone thus far, and Google built both of those: Google Maps and YouTube for the iPhone. From this alone you may see how closely the two companies are allied in mobile application development. Statements from AT&T’s Glenn Lurie further underscore how important the iPhone creators consider the Google applications to be on the devices, and it seems open to question as to whether any other manufacturer could realistically provide Google with both the hardware and operating system necessary to improve upon the iPhone.

The two companies admire one another quite a bit, and after seeing Marissa Mayer practically endorsing the iPhone at SES, I couldn’t help but wonder if Google wouldn’t have asked Apple to manufacture a custom phone on their behalf, to be branded as the Gphone. But, Apple’s never previously done private labeling of this sort, and my contacts state that Apple has no plans to do this currently.

At this point, it seems most likely that Google would partner even more closely with Apple since they complement each other so closely, as reported in this Time article: iPhone’s Secret Ingredient: Google.


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