Google Preparing Unlocked, Android Smartphone?
Will employees next year be asking for enterprise support of a new Android-powered, unlocked smartphone sold by Google? That could be the case, as it appears the Internet giant is working on the release of its own open source mobile phone in a move that would bypass carrier subsidies and exclusive contracts by having the device operate on multiple networks. Google this weekend gave more evidence that it's pursuing the release of its own Android-based smartphone, though it's remaining shy about disclosing much in detail. Mario Queiroz, vice president for product management at Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), said in a blog post on Saturday that the company has begun distributing a "mobile lab" device to its employees. While Queiroz disclosed few details of the product, industry observers are saying that it's the latest step in Google's efforts to create a self-branded smartphone. According to Queiroz, the mobile lab device "combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android -- the Google-backed mobile operating system -- " and would enable Google employees to "experiment with new mobile features and capabilities." He did not disclose a timeline for when testing might conclude. If previous reports are to be believed, that hardware partner is HTC, the Taiwanese hardware manufacturer that previously produced Android-compatible phones for all the major U.S. carriers, beginning with the first Android device to hit the market, the T-Mobile HTC G1.