The rumors of Google's plans to release an Internet-optimized, BlackBerry-like device have not only created quite a buzz; they've been confirmed, at least according to some reports.
"According to Nomura phone analyst Richard Windsor, the company has confirmed the project. 'Google has come out of the closet at the CeBIT trade fair admitting that it is working on a mobile phone of its own,' he said in a note. 'This is not going to be a high-end device but a mass market device aimed at bringing Google to users who don't have a PC,'" directtraffic.org reports.
Meanwhile, engadget.com also claims to have new info about the device, which it refers to as the Google Switch. The site even includes what could be a screen image of the phones contact program.
Google corporate, however, continues to neither confirm nor deny the report.
Still, that Google will deliver a phone is a possibility, and the question remains: "Why would Google want to mess with the phone business?"
Dan Nystedt at the IDG News Service posed the question the other day, and came up with this: "The commentaries have been mostly about rumors, and they lack a good motive for such a move. Google makes software, not hardware, and rumors that it was developing a PC a few years back turned out to be wrong -- it was simply making software for PCs."
Well, I have a different perspective, with all due respect to Mr. Nystedt. Google wants to make a Google-y phone for the same reason it wants to give free WiFi to Mountain View, San Francisco, and -- as observed in a fascinating article on Daily Wireless -- perhaps the entire nation.
The Daily Wireless article lists eight signs that Google is planning to build a national wireless network. Among them (and in addition to the free WiFi in Mountain View and offer to San Fran), the article notes that: Google is investing heavily in dark fiber (dark fiber has such an ominous ring to it. I bet the Death Star was laden with that stuff); it's investing in power-line based broadband technology; and it's planting datacenters left and right.
So then: If Google is sowing the seeds for a nationwide wireless network -- perhaps even a free one -- why would it do so? The company could launch such a venture under the guise of delivering knowledge to the people, and perhaps that truly is part of the Google ambition. But it certainly wouldn't just be a charitable endeavor. Google surely realizes that the more people in the U.S. (and beyond) who get online and use Google services, the more money Google makes through advertising. And what better way to generate more Net users, AKA ad-clickers, then giving away wireless service to the masses?