Written by Om Malik
Is Google (GOOG) Phone fact or fiction? Engadget says Google’s entry into mobile phone business is for real, and the company is going to announce it soon. Scott Kirsner talked to a bunch of folks over who are intimately familiar with the effort and outlined his findings in an article for The Boston Globe.
The story talks about a handful of Boston entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who have seen the phone, but are under NDA and can’t talk about it. Rich Miner, a co-founder of Android, a mobile software company he started with Andy Rubin (formerly of Danger) is based in Boston.
Google bought Android in August 2005. Later Google snapped up Reqwireless and Skia, two tiny start-ups with mobile expertise, and since then has been hiring mobile-focused folks at a pretty steady clip.
The news (or rumors) were enough to get me dialing-for-dirt over the big holiday weekend. These are the tidbits I picked up from a reliable source:
- Google Phone is based on a mobile variant of Linux, and is able to run Java virtual machines.
- All applications that are supposed to run on the Google Phone are java apps. The OS has ability to run multimedia files, including video clips.
- The user interface is similar to a UI typical of mobile phones, and the image (with red background) floating around isn’t representative of the Google Phone UI. The entire UI is said to be done in Java and is very responsive. The UI, of course has a “search box.”
- There is a special browser which has pan-and-browse features that are common to modern browsers such as browsers for iPhone and Symbian phones. The entire browser is apparently written in Java. But then others have told us that the browser is based on the WebKit core, the same engine in Safari and in iPhone, and Google has been making optimizations to speed it up. This is one aspect of the Google Phone I am not sure about.
- Initially there was one prototype, but over past few months Google has the mobile OS running on 3-to-5 devices, most of them likely made by HTC, a mobile phone maker, and all have Qwerty apps. The model that folks have seen is very similar to the T-Mobile Dash. Around 3GSM, there were rumors that Google, Orange and HTC were working together on mobile devices.
These tiny-bits of information are pretty close to what Simeon Simenov, a VC with Polaris Venture Partners had very clearly outlined on his blog eons ago. I can’t seem to find that post, so here is is an alternate link. Simenov also wrote a pretty good post on what should be an ideal mobile stack. Google is pretty close to what Simenov had outlined.
We will post more details as they come our way. I had initially thought that it could be a more viable option to the $100 PC. While that argument still remains true, I think this is a strategic move by Google to keep Windows Mobile’s growing influence in check. Microsoft has spent billions on its mobile efforts including buying companies such as Tell Me Networks.