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A branded handset could help the search company develop a more software developer-friendly infrastructure.

W. David Gardner

December 14, 2009

2 Min Read

First sighted in 2007, the Google Phone's existence is finally being acknowledged by the search engine company, which said it has given mobile phones using its Android operating system to its employees.

Google remained circumspect about plans for the Google Phone, called Nexus One internally, but it discussed the device on a company blog over the weekend. "At Google, we are constantly experimenting with new products and technologies and often ask employees to test these product for quick feedback and suggestions for improvement," Google said. "We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities." While various versions of Android-powered handsets -- offered by carriers -- have been selling well, they lag behind sales for RIM Blackberries and Apple iPhones. A Google phone, marketed by Google without the assistance of mobile phone service providers, could appeal to customers interested in prepaid plans, which have been rapidly gaining customers in recent months. The Google device is reported to be manufactured by Taiwan's HTC, which makes hardware for several popular mobile devices. A beefed-up internal program for a Google phone could also help the company develop a more software developer-friendly infrastructure. Developers have produced more than 100,000 apps for Apple's iPhone and many software developers have been grumbling that Google's multiple Android designs make it too difficult and uneconomical for them to develop apps for Android handsets. Last month, a survey of 30 software developers conducted by location technology provider Skyhook Wireless, found that many Android developers were dropping Android application work and returning to work on iPhone apps. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that people familiar with the new Google phone said the search engine firm plans to sell the Nexus One online. Google has declined to discuss its internal phone beyond its brief blog comments.

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