Report: HTC To Be Handset That Goes With Google Mobile OS
In the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t game of anticipating the Google Phone or Google mobile OS on a handset, UBS analyst Benjamin Schachter issued a report that predicts “Taiwanese handset manufacturer HTC will ship about 50,000 cell phones running on a mobile operating system made by the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant by the end of this year.” According to the Fortune article in which this discussion appears, Schachter also believes other mobile OEMs will be involved, perhaps South Korea’s LG.
We can reasonably expect that some version of this prediction, also discussed on CNET, is accurate: there will likely be lots of Google mobile software or a full-blown mobile OS out in the next several months. The questions are: 1) how good an experience will it offer?, 2) how widely available will it become?, 3) how much would it cost? and 4) which carriers will offer it?
Google has said a few times publicly that the company saw a spike in its mobile traffic in June when the iPhone was introduced. Google also understands, as do Yahoo and Microsoft, that the user-experience is the key to user adoption and growth of mobile usage — and monetization. Further, Google has been rolling out mobile versions of its apps and improvements in existing mobile apps over the past several months and weeks. The company also made the significant announcement that most AdWords will be distributed in mobile and charged for mobile clicks starting November 18 — Google AdWords are currently being shown in mobile — absent an opt-out by advertisers.
I wonder if this (HTC Touch) will be the phone that carries the Google mobile OS:
But more important, at least in the US, is the question of who will offer such a phone with a Google OS? US carriers, with the possible exception of Sprint, tend to see Google as a competitor that threatens their relationship with the consumer in the long term (a valid concern). Unless demand or competitive pressure compels multiple US carriers to offer the phone or phones we can expect them to generally try and marginalize or exclude it.
(A “GPhone” would also be a potential competitor to Blackberry and Palm.)
Enter the forthcoming wireless spectrum auction. Google has indicated it may bid billions for spectrum licenses that, if won, would effectively allow the company to become a carrier itself. But that strategy has risks as well.
Regardless, consumers a hungry for better mobile experiences and the iPhone has accelerated that phenomenon and demand. (The iPhone is finally opening up its platform to third-party developers.) It could well be that if a “Google Phone” emerges, is affordable and offers a good experience, it will be a strong competitor to the iPhone.
One related question is whether Google will aggressively subsidize a GPhone to get it into the hands of consumers. But all this is speculation until something is actually announced.
See also Gphone? The Google Phone Timeline for a rundown from us on past rumors over the years.