Rumored “Google Phone” Unlikely to Compete Directly with Android Licensees

Rumors are spreading and intensifying regarding the development and eventual release of a “Google Phone,” apparently different from the Android-based handsets that Google’s hardware licensees, such as HTC and Motorola, have brought to market.

At this point, details on the Google Phone are limited. There’s no such limit on speculation, though.

I find it difficult to imagine that Google would be so quick to trash its approach to licensing its Android mobile operating system to handset vendors. If it came out with its own phone, one that directly competed with the Android-based handsets of its OEM partners, Google would effectively be throwing kerosene and matches on those relationships. Microsoft, whose hold on those OEMs has weakened in inverse proportion to Android’s rise, would celebrate wildly. Google would be giving Microsoft a lifeline that Windows Mobile doesn’t deserve.

Google isn’t that magnanimous. If this heretofore mythical Google Phone does exist — and it probably does — I suspect it runs entirely on WiFi (or future unlicensed spectrum, such as “white spaces”) and features Google Talk. I don’t think it’s a handset that Google would offer to wireless operators in direct competition against products from its handset partners.

It would be no surprise to see Google emerge as one of the white-space database administrators the FCC has solicited.

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