Just when you thought the Google Android news couldn't get any stranger, Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Northeast securities, told InternetNews.com and TheStreet.com today that Google itself is planning to release a handset with the operating system.
Details are sketchy, but according to Kumar the device will be unlocked and will be available directly through retailers. Though unlocked phones typically are more expensive than carrier-branded phones, they are also free of any carrier restrictions. Google hasn't commented on the rumor, but I'm taking this one with a healthy dose of speculation.
First off, I can't understand what Google would gain by going head to head with manufacturers and carriers that have embraced the OS. Six manufacturers and three carriers now have devices either in stores or on the way so it's clear that the cell phone world is getting involved. Google already has a role by supplying the OS, which is the unifying feature on the various hardware designs.
Since it isn't a hardware company Google would need someone to make the phone. So who would that be? Though I could see a manufacturer getting onboard just to sell more phones, it would also expect to have some role in the marketing. It's called the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G, but you know its made by HTC.
While an unlocked handset would fulfill Android's open promise to the most degree, you still have to get it on a carrier eventually. And in doing so you'll need to accept the limitations of a carrier's network. Some services will still be out of reach no matter what.
Finally, Google also wouldn't gain that much control over an open device. Google Search and apps already power Android phones so I can't imagine what additional Google fun an unlocked phone would offer. Similarly, Android users already have a lot of control over what they do with their phones. Would an unlocked model give them that much more freedom? Not really...we're not talking about a jailbroken iPhone.
I very well could be wrong about all of this, but for now I'm calling foul. I'll be eagerly awaiting further news, and if it comes I'll report it here. So what do you think? Would Google sell its own Android phone?