October 24, 2007 4:00 AM PDT
In search of the Google phone
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There also has been much speculation that the Gphone will run a Linux-based operating system. "Google's inclination would be to make it more useful than just a phone with Internet access," Sterling said. "That seems culturally consistent with the interests of the Google founders. They want to see lots of interesting uses and extensions of it."
And what might those extended uses be? According to patent filings, Google is aiming to allow the phone to become a virtual machine that would connect to a keyboard and display, Arnold said.
The Gphone could also eventually be used to help locate and monitor movements of troops in battle and transmit maps and other critical information to them, he said referring to another patent. And imagine a phone with medical uses that could monitor your heart and pulse and call emergency personnel if you have a heart attack or alert you to less severe activity, he said.
In another patent, Google envisions phones serving as individual nodes on a large mesh network that can be used to receive and transmit all kinds of data in all directions, according to Arnold.
Whether Google wants to merely extend its lucrative advertising business model to the wireless space, or whether it wants to create software and services that underlie a multifunction device, there's no doubt the company sees mobile telephony as a vital market.
"Google is a bit anxious about accelerating its mobile market," Sterling said. "Their multifaceted approach with voice applications, the potential (bidding for wireless) spectrum licenses, lobbying on behalf of open networks, the development of software, the potential emergence of a Google Phone, all represents a pretty aggressive push which would suggest that they see urgency here."
Google's threat to bid on the 700MHz wireless spectrum poses a serious threat to mobile telephony carriers who worry that the search company will transmogrify into a service provider. "It feels like Google is trying to be a disruptive force in the cellular industry in the U.S. to potentially drive behavior change," said Derek Brown, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald.
Of course, that's a bit of speculation as well, at least until a Gphone actually turns up in the wild.
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