Unlocked, Google-Branded Phone Coming Jan. 5?

Google on Jan. 5 may be unveiling its own branded smartphone, dubbed Nexus One, as speculation continues that the Internet giant will begin selling an unlocked handset running its open source mobile operating system Android.

Invitations to an Android press event being held at Google's offices on Jan. 5 are making the rounds today, prompting predictions of a Nexus One introduction two days before the Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off Jan. 7 in Las Vegas.

Industry watchers are predicting that Google will demonstrate its self-branded Android smartphone Nexus One at the Jan. 5 press event, while bloggers report that T-Mobile will be one of the carriers and could perhaps also sell the handset.

If previous reports are true, the Nexus One will be unlocked, which means it can run on multiple carriers, will be made by HTC and will be sold by Google at its Web site, though other carriers may also offer the device.

The move by Google to sell its own Android smartphone is considered somewhat controversial for several reasons. First, it would compete directly with handsets issued by the company's partners, such as Verizon, which sells the Droid.

The Nexus One could also presumably steal market share from other Android phones, such as the Hero, myTouch and Cliq, in effect cannibalizing some of Google's gains in the mobile sector.

Finally, if the Nexus One is unlocked, it means Google is subverting the traditional business model by cutting carriers out of the loop. Typically, smartphone makers strike exclusive deals with mobile network operators who, in turn, subsidize the price in exchange for being the sole carrier.

Spokeswomen for Google and T-Mobile declined to comment.


Google, Android, smartphone, nexus one, unlocked