You can read every where in the press these days that Google will luanch a Google Phone next year. If you look closer in some articles they mention that it will be manufactured by the Google’s partner HTC.
I had a discussion with the Google guys few months ago and their strategy is crystal clear: Android is an Open Source and free OS. If one manufacturer wants to put it on a device, he’s free to do so. You don’t even need to enter formal relationship with Google. Let’s call it the level one of Android.
Then if you want to put the Google services like Google Maps, Gmail, etc. on top of it, there you need a formal contract with Google. Let’s call it the level 2 of Android.
Google wants to push one to two devices a year as ‘super hero’ device. Sorry the code name ‘hero’ has been already taken 😉 . To do so the ‘super hero’ device will be Google branded at the back like the HTC G1 Dream (see picture).
But it will still be a HTC device like the G1 again. Let’s call this the level 3 of Android. This level 3 of partnership is working nearly exactly the same as with Microsoft for its ‘Hero campaign’ (sorry a ‘Hero’ again). Microsoft picks up 3 to 5 devices per year and promotes them massively.
In the case of this new Google branded HTC device, the question is will it be a HTC experience or a Google experience. Who is providing the UI and who is keeping the IPR. HTC has done a terrific work on his sense UI that brings a common look and feel across its range of Windows Mobile and Android devices.
Will the Google branded phone feature the sense UI, a new Google UI, or new one? If it is a new one who will own the IPR ?
Will the device feature a new release of Android? 2.x or more?
Last question is will operators buy this device? I’m pretty sure many will fight for it in the US and in Europe … with again the risk of becoming a ‘dumb pipe’ provider.