For months now, reports have been circulating about a cellular phone being developed by Internet giant Google. Dubbed "GPhone," the California company's would-be handset has generally been described as a QWERTY-enabled smartphone running a proprietary operating system designed to run mobile versions of Google's popular Web-based applications.
On the heels of Google's interest in forthcoming FCC wireless spectrum auctions come new reports that Google is actively shopping prototypes of GPhone to the major cellular carriers, and is also in talks with hardware companies regarding handset production. What's interesting about these reports (beyond the mere possibility of a Google cell phone) is two-fold.
First, Google is said to be interested in distributing one or more GPhone models across as many of the big American service providers as possible ? no iPhone-like exclusivity here. Second, rumors are heating up regarding an ad-based service model that would push advertisements to consumers' handsets while eliminating monthly service fees. Given Google's online advertising juggernaut status, this makes perfect sense. The question is, will consumers be willing to deal with a barrage of advertisements on their handsets in exchange for free calls and data services?
If anyone can convince us all to answer "Yes" to that question, surely it's Google.