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Google Releases Experimental Phone To Employees 141

alphadogg, as is his wont, sends in a Network World piece on the resurgent rumors of a Google Phone. "Google has handed out a new mobile phone running its Android software to some employees, stirring another wave of speculation that the oft-rumored Google Phone is real. In a blog post on Saturday morning, Google said the phones are being distributed so that workers can experiment with new mobile features. It did not say the device will be a Google-branded phone. Since even before Google unveiled Android, onlookers have wondered whether the search giant will release its own phone. Instead, it released an open source operating system that other hardware vendors can use to make phones."
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Google Releases Experimental Phone To Employees

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  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:27AM (#30420966)
    Is there anywhere enough details available to say if whatever this thing is will be better than the Droid? (At least the impression i've gotten without doing a great deal of research is that the Droid is the best Android phone out so far.)
  • Any good? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:30AM (#30420972)

    I've been quite unimpressed so far with the current Android phones, so I'm very interested in what features Google would add on top of the base Android OS. I'm particularly interested in how they intend to support Exchange users.

  • WSJ says it's real (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:39AM (#30421016)

    The Wall Street Journal says it's real [wsj.com].

    I was doubtful myself, it seemed really weird that Google would compete against partners like this. It seems like most technical people that would even want Android to start with would flock to this phone and drop the others. Heck, I might even buy one to have something to tether my iPhone to when traveling internationally!!

    I had a chance to try out a Droid, and it was still pretty pokey (especially when using the built in browser). Perhaps the Google phone will finally hit a good performance stride.

  • It's the season (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mknutty ( 1684802 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @03:43AM (#30421034)

    Google likes to give its employees little toys every year for Christmas. There aren't that many Google-related toys out there to give, so they could end up picking a phone even if it's nothing special.

    Oooorrr... it could be teh awesomest Googlest phone evar.

  • Re:Any good? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Max Littlemore ( 1001285 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @04:38AM (#30421256)

    Not sure where you are or what provider you are with, but Exchange sync is offered by at least one carrier selling Android phones in Oz and there are apps for it in the market if your carrier doesn't offer it. It's not really Google/Android's job to supply software to sync with a proprietary system from some other company, but vendors are free to value add to attract customers.

    This is what I think makes Android so promising. It's an open OS that is available to any manufacturer to implement and they automatically get a ton of apps already built for it. Compare that to iPhone - only one player allowed to manufacture hardware and supply the OS and a heavily restricted market for apps, much like when Windows was available for any cheap hardware vendor to install and MacOS wasn't. Mac went from being the superior machine to near annihilation. Looks like Google learned from the 1990s PC vs Mac thing better than Apple did and Apple was in it and lost the first time!

    Maybe Google will move into the hardware business, maybe they wont. I don't think they will improve on offerings by Sony Ericsson (when that finally comes out), but either way, they win.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:52AM (#30421684)
    I got my Nokia n900, and it's really GREAT, even better than expected. After few weeks it's out, there's already Pidgin, OpenVPN, and many more. Sure it crashes a bit, but that should be because it's still a quite young phone, and I hope that it's going to be fixed.

    I quite hate the Google concept where things are SUPPOSED to be opened, but in fact, you get something which is not really modifiable. I don't see how this will change sooner or later.
  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @06:53AM (#30421690)

    Wow, if Google starts eating its own dogfood, by taking the leap into the handset manufacturing business, then I'll most certainly be eating my own words.

    Just because Google gives out some handsets to its employees, doesn't mean it's getting into the handset business. They may just be wanting a bigger inhouse testbed, which would be a great idea.

    I liked the sound of Arrington's recent rumour about a WiFi/Skype-only mobile phone from them, though. That would be an interesting option to have, if you could _only_ pay the data fees.

  • Re:Any good? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @07:50AM (#30421860) Homepage

    There is one downside to each manufacturer having their own implementation - the market fragments. Especially when some phones don't get updates to newer OS versions (that's already happening). Also, the benefits of open app market look nice on paper...but haven't materialized.

    That said, I also agree that history will repeat itself in regards to Apple loosing dominance. But I have some doubts if it will be due to Android...

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Sunday December 13, 2009 @10:59AM (#30422598) Homepage Journal

    I think it probably depends on what aspect of the Droid you are talking about. I think the most interesting thing about the Droid is its lack of non-proprietary video out connectors. The upshot is that you can't use the droid to drive your TV by putting it in a docking cradle, as you can with the iPhone. It's a significant, but interesting limitation,and if the Google phone is like that as well that tells us something.

    My theory is that the big difference between Android and the iPhone is that ultimately for Android the device is secondary -- just a terminal into the cloud. You don't need a media connector in that vision, because your TV will be connected to the cloud as well. If the Google phone has some provision for HDMI output, that'd tell us that Google is hedging its bets.

    At the current state of development, iPhone is more polished and useful. The user interface for the Safari and the iPhone email app are more convenient. At present my TV does not have software that work with non-proprietary Internet standards, so it's really quite helpful to be able to dock my iPod touch to my TV. But it'd be even *more* convenient not to have to connect my mobile device at all. If my TV were something like giant Archos box, or just a display peripheral to such a device, then I wouldn't miss the media connectors.

    We all know about the limitations of the "cloud" concept, but let's not forget that the idea of every device being a storage device has its limitations too. We take it for granted that to use our *home* data, we have to become network and server admins. We accept that without question because that's the status quo, but even people who *can* be competent home network admins don't always *want* to be. I think Apple realizes this too, which is why they push the MobileMe service.

    For my personal data, I'd much rather kiss dependency on any single device goodbye and let Google be the primary manager of my data, provided that (a) I had reliable network access, (b) my devices could work when the network fails by caching the data I'm most likely to want and (c) I had some kind of backup medium that I could recover *all* my data from if I had a dispute with Google.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 13, 2009 @11:32AM (#30422802)
    well, if you are talking about apple's marketing + RDF effect + fanboy cult, yes, there has not been any ipod killer. If you talking about better functional devices, there have been few superior to ipod devices.

    For iphone, well, as you have been living under a cave for some time, you would not know this phone called Droid from Motorola running Android. It's first real Android device matching iphone's processing power and aesthetics. And now that Motorola and Verizon have matched Apple and AT&T's marketing, it actually is giving iphone a good competition. Wait till few more equally powerful android phone comes into the market, and iphone is well on it's way to become mac of the phones.

    But do not let reality distort your fantasy (and please DO NOT play with Droid before writing them off). Continue to masturbate on Steve Job's picture with black turtleneck.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.