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Google's Upcoming Phone: More Details

Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 15, 2008

The first mobile phone based on Android, which is software supported by Google, will debut this fall. We know a lot about the phone’s looks already: Made by HTC, it will have a touch screen and a slide-out Qwerty keyboard, according to this story. But today, Moe Tanabian, senior principal at IBB Consulting who has seen the device, has been able to give me a lot more details on its software.

Software is, in fact, what will make or break this gadget, which some call the gPhone. There have been plenty of touch-screen iPhone clones already, several of them from HTC. They’ve done well, but not nearly as well as Apple’s iPhone. Could the Android phone change that? Perhaps.

Here’s Tanabian’s run-down on the Android phone’s software features:
— If you want to receive push e-mail, you’ll have to use Google’s Gmail. It’s unclear that the phone will support Microsoft Exchange.
— The phone will have access to upcoming T-Mobile App Store, which will be very similar to Apple’s store featuring third-party iPhone applications. Only T-Mobile will likely place fewer restrictions on software developers, so that Android phone users may have more games and productivity apps to choose from.
— The phone will come with Google’s advertising software pre-installed. Customers who opt in to receive mobile ads from Google may be offered to buy the phone for a lower price, and may also pay lower monthly service fees. The Google platform will serve ads based on your interests and location, provided by the phone.

Tanabian has also provided me a few additional details on the hardware:
— The Android phone’s screen will be larger than the iPhone’s, he believes.
— The handset will feature a track ball, making it easier to navigate menus with one hand.
— Down the road, perhaps the phone may be able to hook into T-Mobile’s Hotspot @Home service, allowing people to make unlimited calls via the Android phone from home or office.
— The Android phone will hit stores around Thanksgiving, not in September-October, as some news outlets have reported.

Many of these features sound interesting (Google won't confirm or deny this information). My only concern: If, indeed, you'll have to use Gmail for push e-mail, that's troubling. Clearly, lots of people use other services today. And many businesses may be hesitant to abandon their current e-mail systems.

The Gmail mandate also raises all those old, hairy questions about just how much control Google will exercise over the Android project. Lots of the world's best independent developers and software companies actually compete with Google. And if they sense that Google is always getting the upper hand with Android, they will not back this phone. End users will suffer, as they won't have access to the best applications out there.

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Reader Comments

John Kreuzer

August 15, 2008 02:48 PM

Certainly some interesting developments in the past couple of days. It will be very interesting to see if the rumors finally prove to be true.


August 15, 2008 03:40 PM

Google Can't be so restrictive. Or else it would be just another phone in the market.


August 15, 2008 04:28 PM

Sadly, I believe the idea of a mobile platform based upon subscription advertising is poor. It is humorous that these folks wish to emulate Apple so badly, that they even take their poor ideas (mobileme) and push them to extremes. Who would wish to have "only" one email push platform and have to pay for the exclusive privilege? At least Apple is not so stupid; you get "push" functionality from a choice of free providers, and are not forced to purchase "mobileme". With "thinking" like this, it is not hard to predict a big failure here! Although I must admit the thought of having all those intrusive ads provided for me is really, well, not exciting either. Yes, I believe we have another loser...tell me again why I should buy this?


August 15, 2008 05:15 PM

Interesting stuff. Will be following this one.

Zaïdou Msoili

August 15, 2008 07:14 PM

I think people need to surf the web for email, search, news. And right now it is easy to browse the mobile web for this purpose with nokia, Blackberry and iPhone. Apple make it easy to surf the web. And let users discover others app. Can google do more than other?

August 15, 2008 08:05 PM

interesting :)

Michael Molin

August 15, 2008 08:23 PM

Hello Olga,

There are no clones of iPhone. The thing is in Apple's monopoly on Intel's new advanced *cell phone* and mobile processors - the first ones with Intel Architecture (supporting IA32 instructions) i.e. allowing to run Mac OSX applications and having low power consumption to work as cell phones. MacBook Air netbook's announcement before Intel Atom processors for MIDs and netbooks' confirms this. iPhone is just the first MID in Apple and Intel's strategy - before someone else will have such processors.

My bet is on Intel's Moorestown system-on-chip processor when as Intel promised technology progress in power consumption will allow to make a Cell PC (MotoRAZR2 with main display like of Samsung i900 - 3.2' 16:9 and the second display instead of the keypad like of Nokia N95 8GB - 3' 4:3) to support 1,5 more screen area than of iPhone's display.

My offer for development is Microsoft Cell PC.



August 16, 2008 08:38 AM

Google is going to sell lots of these by embedding beheading videos like this one that they keep on youtube to help support the war for the islamists -

Google knows how people like blood and gore so all their new phones will contain skulls like at the 2 minute mark.


August 16, 2008 12:04 PM

There is no way that Google is going to restrict it to gmail. They might give gmail more functionality, but I'm sure will open it to all. That's the only way to make the platform take off.


August 18, 2008 03:21 AM

The problem with the carriers is that they are only good at one thing: communicating. All carriers had their application stores for the longest time. These stores sold games, ringtones, and other useless applications. Relative to Apple's App Store, the carrier app stores are a flop! Creating a T-Mobile App Store will be a flop as well! Google should make the one and only app store for their phone. Google knows how to develop software and create communities of developers. Everyone respects Google for this. T-Mobile isn't respected for anything, including their cell service.


August 18, 2008 11:17 AM

Apple Stock is going UP due to the rumors. The Gphone will not be an iPhone 3G.

Due people see that people buy iphones for 1) Cell Phone 2) iPod features 3) WEB access 4) email lastly!

Apple stock to $500+ see this link


August 18, 2008 11:59 AM

I read the article and I see a lot of "he believes" and "it's unclear". It's a bit hard to take your source seriously when half of what he says seems to be his own speculation. Engadget it quoting this report an indicating that the Dream will NOT support Microsoft Exchange, which is not even stated in here. has a good roundup of recent android news from this weekend, seems like they have been doing their homework a bit better.


August 18, 2008 05:00 PM

Quote: Moe Tanabian, senior principal at IBB Consulting who has seen the device
Quote: The Android phone’s screen will be larger than the iPhone’s, he believes.

Believes? He either saw the device or did not. I get very suspicious about a source who has seen the physical device but only believes it is larger than the iPhone.

I have a plan: I'll just wait and see what it looks like when it is released....


August 18, 2008 05:14 PM

Google is going into mobile for one reason--more ad revenue--and they can't run ads into Exchange. This phone is not for the Enterprise, at least not yet, but don't worry, they'll be others--lots of them. Plus, someone may develop an exchange client for the T-Mobile app store.


August 19, 2008 05:21 AM

Good to hear the "app store" will be open. We'll see how popular it is. I'm pretty exciting, being an existing customer at t-mobile and ready to upgrade my razr.

This article is nearly useless without a picture. Geez.

Sudheesh Bhaskaran

August 19, 2008 05:27 AM

How will be the new is going to fare is the big question. Google is a new entrant in the gadget market and how well they can fare on user friendliness and features is a big question. There is no doubt google is much better placed to market a product like this.
It is funny and disappointing that everybody try to emulate Iphone. Google will have a tough time to be a good competitor to Apple.
Gphone will be at great disadvantage if they limitpush mail to gmail only.
Iam also apprehensive about google advertisement programme also
Did google announce the lauching date???


August 19, 2008 06:16 AM

Wow! That was interesting! I don't believe it's an iPhone killer with what I read.

I don't want Google control even in my mobile and I definitely don't want ads all around. I watch too much of them in my TV, radio, sites, blogs etc.

JIm McDish

August 19, 2008 09:55 AM

Wow, whats coming next? GoogleMart? Im telling you now one day Google will rule the world.



August 19, 2008 10:15 AM

wow im digging it...looks better than the Iphone


August 20, 2008 10:39 AM

Blahbippity Blah Blah blah blah blah blahblah blah. Blah Blahblah blah. No one reads this crap.


August 25, 2008 04:19 AM

yes, I do


October 18, 2008 03:44 PM

what are the disadvantages of buying google android from U.S if someone is living in india

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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