The Google Phone Is Very Real. And It's Coming Soon

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Michael Arrington
TechCrunch.com
Tuesday, November 17, 2009; 9:38 PM

The debate over Droid v. iPhone rages on, but lots more Android surprises are on the way. Get ready for the Google Phone. It's no longer a myth, it's real.

The next "super" Android device will almost certainly be a HTC phone that's much thinner than even the Droid or iPhone ¿ The Dragon/Passion. This is the phone the senior Android guys at Google are now carrying around and testing, at least as of a couple of weeks ago. If you're willing to give up the Droid's keyboard, the Dragon/Passion is going to be a really cool phone. It should be fully available very soon.

But it isn't the Google Phone. Everything up until now has just been a warm up to the Google Phone.

Way more interesting are the rumors we've been hearing for months about a pure Google-branded phone. Most of our sources have unconfirmed information, which we describe below. But there are a few things we have absolutely confirmed: Google is building their own branded phone that they'll sell directly and through retailers. They were long planning to have the phone be available by the holidays, but it has now slipped to early 2010. The phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer but will only have Google branding (Microsoft did the same thing with their first Zunes, which were built by Toshiba).

There won't be any negotiation or compromise over the phone's design of features ¿ Google is dictating every last piece of it. No splintering of the Android OS that makes some applications unusable. Like the iPhone for Apple, this phone will be Google's pure vision of what a phone should be.

That's it for confirmed, super-high confidence information, which frankly isn't a whole lot more than we all heard back in late October. But we also have a few more details as well that we've gathered from a number of sources. Everything that follows we still consider to be just well-sourced rumors:

One source told us that HTC, a Taiwanese company, is building the new Google phone, but we think that information is incorrect. We have some fairly good information that suggests Google is working with a Korean phone manufacturer on the Google phone ¿ LG or Samsung (we mentioned this on CrunchGear earlier this week). Samsung has multiple parts in the iPhone and could be pressured by Apple not to work with Google, which says LG is the more likely partner for Google. So rumors like this one may be much more important than they first appear. But either way, the best information we have right now points directly at Korea as the birthplace of the Google Phone.

We've also heard from a good source that Google is planning a big advertising push around the device early next year ¿ like January.

That's all we have for now. We don't yet know what the device will look like, how big it will be, or even if it has a physical keyboard. But we do know that Google is getting into the phone building business directly, and doesn't seem too concerned about competing with all the other device manufacturers building Android phones.

Update: The Google Phone may be a data only, VoIP device.


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