Still reeling from Apple’s entry into the mobile market, traditional cellphone makers like Nokia and Motorola are about to face a potentially even bigger kick in the pants: Google’s gPhone.
For the past 12 months, the telco industry debated whether Google’s open source Android project will result in a mobile software platform for use on any brand of phone; a Google-branded cellphone or “G”, or a combination of both.
Now, the murk is starting to clear.
US carrier T-Mobile says it will unveil the first Google-branded cellphone next week.
T-Mobile’s “gPhone” handset will be made by HTC, a Taiwanese contract manufacturer that makes its own (relatively obscure) brand of handsets, plus house brands for carriers including Vodafone and Telecom New Zealand (Telecom’s first phone under its home-grown “OKTA” brand was made by HTC, though the company says other models in the series could be drawn from elsewhere).
In sign we live in interesting times, the first gPhone will be triple-badged, carrying Google, T-Mobile and HTC logos.
While details of the gPhone are still under wraps, pundits will be looking for how Android’s browser gels – or doesn’t – with Chrome; and whether its poised to take advantage of Google’s recent foray into buying large amounts of wi-fi spectrum – creating a possible future scenario for mobile VoIP calls that cut traditional cellphone service providers out of the picture altogether.
True to HTC’s rep for ungainly but feature-packed phones, the T-Mobile/Google/HTC handset is said to feature both a touchscreen with iPhone style features, and a full QWERTY keyboard styled after that featured on RIM’s BlackBerry Curve.
Other carriers from China Mobile to Sprint (Telecom’s US-based technology partner) say they are looking to develop phones based around Android.