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Google plans to produce, sell 'Nexus One' phone directly

The Internet search giant has said that it has shared a device with its employees across the globe which combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android, to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities

In a strategic move that marks its foray into direct sales, Internet search giant Google Inc is planning to sell its cell phone directly to consumers, evading wireless operators, by as soon as next year, a media report says.

Citing people familiar with the sources, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said that Google has designed a cell phone it plans to sell directly to consumers as soon as next year. The phone will be called 'Nexus One' and is being manufactured for Google by HTC Corp, the WSJ said quoting sources. Users will have to buy cellular service for the device separately.

Officially, there is no word from Google, although, in its blog, the search giant 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, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe. This means they get to test out a new technology and help improve it." (Google calls this testing by employees 'dogfooding', i.e., from 'eating your own dog food'!)

According to some Internet blogs, the Google phone would be officially called as 'Nexus One' and will be launched as early as January 2010. It won’t be sold by any one carrier, but instead will be an unlocked GSM phone. It will be running on Google's Android 2.1 mobile software.

Nexux One's launch, especially in the US, assumes significance as T-Mobile and AT&T's exclusivity deals with Apple for its iPhone are about to come to an end. Google's phone would prove to be a shot-in-the-arm for these carriers, who so far had to depend on iPhone for higher-end mobile handsets.

Google has designed virtually the entire software experience behind the phone, from the applications that run on it to the look and feel of each screen.

The phone runs on a Snapdragon chip, has a super high-resolution OLED touchscreen, is thinner than the iPhone, has no keyboard, and sports two microphones. The microphone on the back of the phone helps eliminate background noise, and it also has a 'weirdly' large camera for a phone. And if you don’t like the touchscreen keyboard, a voice-to-text feature is supposed to let you dictate emails and notes by speaking directly into the phone, said techcrunch.com, in a report.

The move also marks a rare foray into direct sales for Google. With the exception of an appliance it markets as a search tool to businesses, the company hasn't sold hardware in the past.

"The phone is a significant escalation of Google's assault on the mobile industry, challenging both wireless carriers that sell devices as well as companies that design them," WSJ said.

Google became a high-profile player in the mobile arena two years ago, when it launched its Android software. A number of leading handset manufacturers, including Motorola Inc., built phones running the software, some of which contain branding "powered by Google."

But the phones—many of which hit the market in recent months—haven't sold nearly as well as Apple's iPhone.

The direct sales move by Google could alienate wireless carriers and handset makers that offer Android phones and do not want to compete with Google, WSJ said, adding that Google has repeatedly said that its goal is to have hundreds of Android phones rather than one.

"The Internet giant is taking a new, and potentially risky, approach to selling the device. Rather than selling the phone through a wireless carrier—the way the bulk of phones are sold in the US today—Google plans to sell the Nexus One itself online," the report said. .

The newspaper further said that "now, Google appears to want to throw its brand behind a device more directly, designing a phone without working with the wireless carriers that often dictate what features they allow on their networks."
 

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