Engadget has an interesting post dated August 28 regarding Google's efforts to develop a Linux-based smartphone OS and a possible "post-Labor Day" announcement from the company regarding their mobile plans. Ryan Block reminds us all of Google's 2005 acquisition of mobile software company Android, and the continued work inside Google of a team headed by former Android and Danger (they of the Sidekick) head Andy Rubin. Rubin's team, Block reports, has developed an OS that they're shopping to handset makers and carriers as a "flexible, customizable system - with really great Google integration."
There are so many interesting aspects to consider regarding the all-but-certain forthcoming mobile phone from Google ("gPhone," as the media has dubbed it). First and foremost is Google's growing dominance in all things Internet, from search to ads to video to Web 2.0 applications. Cellular may soon become a viable alternative to DSL and Cable for home Internet service, and mobile devices are already in the thick of things when it comes to the cutting edge of personal computing. A mobile handset could also rely more heavily on WiFi-based VoIP (think Skype and Google Talk) than cellular for voice calls - or at least it could if Google keeps pushing its municipal WiFi projects forward. So it only makes sense that Google would take an interest in mobile phones - mobile is the future of the Net, in one way or another.
Then there's the whole iPhone thing. Google and Apple have enjoyed a very friendly working relationship for awhile now, and Apple's obviously got a newfound stake in cellular themselves. So what happens to that friendship when gPhone drops? Does Apple yank Google Maps off of every new iPhone? Likely not, but still ... And if Google's approach to cellular follows their general "Do no evil" credo, you've gotta think they'll give the people a handset that's a bit more open to customization and DIY extendibility then the notoriously locked-down iPhone is.
Or is Google more likely to focus on the operating system than the entire experience and thus become competitors more with the likes of Microsoft (Windows Mobile), BlackBerry, and Palm than with Apple?
And then there's the whole ad-subsidized subscription model. Google does online ads like nobody's business, so if anyone could bring back the NetZero model of "free service if you put up with ads" it's the big G. But will they actually do it? And if they do, will people buy into it? I, for one, am certainly looking forward to finding out. For now, check out Block's piece and - equally as useful and entertaining - the reader comments that follow.
Read: Google is working on a mobile OS, and it's due out shortly - Engadget