The "Wall Street Journal" this week reported that Google is set to unveil plans for the so-called Google Phone, or gPhone, within the next two weeks. In sharp contrast to this year's most hyped smart phone, Apple's iPhone, the gPhone will be a totally open platform designed to make smart phone applications and services as accessible as their PC- and Web-based siblings.
Contrary to early gPhone reports, the Journal says that Google won't be directly making or selling the device, but will rather announce a slew of "advanced software and services" that run on an open platform that will be made by handset makers and sold to the public by wireless carriers. These applications and services will include such Google stalwarts as Internet search, Gmail email, Google Maps, and You Tube.
While stripped-down mobile versions some of these applications and services are currently available on today's smart phones, the new Google platform would offer new levels of integration and functionality. But the biggest innovation, reportedly, is the new open platform Google is pushing, which would reportedly allow third parties to more easily build additional features for the phones.
Anyone with even a passing understanding of the smart phone market knows, however, that these capabilities already exist on Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform, as well as on competing platforms from Nokia, Palm, RIM, and others. Only Apple has chosen to lock down its smart phone against third party developers, though the company recently announced that it will at least partially open the iPhone sometime in 2008. It's unclear whether Google's upcoming gPhone announcement played a role in that decision, though Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on Apple's Board of Directors.