When I wrote up the post about Google possibly launching its own phone, some PD readers found it a little hard to believe. "Why would the Android creator risk alienating the manufacturers and carriers who’ve been supporting the platform?", they asked.
TechCrunch posits that the company will get around this by offering a handset that’s not technically a cellular phone, but a data-only device. Now that’s an interesting idea. Here’s more:
If it were data-only with VoIP, it wouldn’t compete with current Android offerings. So calls and texts would still be possible, but it would work over data service. To support this idea, TC says this is what Google had in mind in 2007, when it bid for the 700MHz spectrum in the FCC auctions.
With the Google Voice service, issuing phone numbers would be a no-brainer. In fact, GV could handle a VOIP phone’s whole calling feature. So theoretically, this should be possible. The question is, though, how would the carriers respond?
Well, the blog cites an unknown source who says AT&T is already bidding for this. The source says that AT&T is already planning to offer data-only subscriptions for BlackBerry and Windows devices, so it’s open to the idea of this type of service model. (No, the iPhone won’t get this treatment. Voice is still required, along with data.)
This, for me, is where it started to fall apart. This might go on AT&T’s data network? Yikes. But luckily, this doesn’t seem like it’s going exclusive, so if this kind of Google phone is in the works, it could show up on other carriers. As for manufacturer, HTC was first singled out as a candidate, but pundits are starting to take a harder look at LG. (The buzz is that the manufacturer will be a Korean company, and Samsung has parts in the iPhone, so that proposition would be sticky. LG, however, might be free and clear for this kind of arrangement.)
It’s important to bear in mind that this is conjecture, and it’s far from confirmed. But what do you think? If a Google handset does make it to market in early 2010, as rumored, without packing cellular, are you buying?