Google To Sell 'Nexus One' New Mobile Phone

The blogosphere has been buzzing with speculation about Google's plans to sell a mobile phone. Google is still mum despite a number of media reports. It reportedly is called "Nexus One" and employees are said to be testing it.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And the blogosphere has been buzzing with speculation about Google's plans to sell a mobile phone. Google is still mum, despite a number of media reports. We called our technology commentator Mario Armstrong to find out what's going on.

Mario, good morning.

MARIO ARMSTRONG: Good morning, Renee. How are you?

MONTAGNE: Fine. Thank you. So we know Google has been putting its software on cell phones, but how big a deal would it be if Google started selling its own phone?

ARMSTRONG: Well, I tell you, if you just go online and just look around, you would think Christmas came early for some reason. The blogosphere is going bananas with the idea that Google could be selling its own phone. You can't really seem to surf a Web page without finding out this. So it would be a big deal for a couple of serious reasons.

Number one, they do have, as you mentioned, this Android mobile operating system. So they do have a goal of having more phones contain this operating system that would run their software. So that would help them better compete with other smartphones that are out there. And number two, this would also, Renee, give them a little bit more flexibility with the services that they could provide on their handsets.

MONTAGNE: Well, though, how would it, practically speaking, work for the customer? I mean, would we just go to a mobile phone store and buy this phone or go online and have it sent to us? I mean, exactly how would it work?

ARMSTRONG: Yeah. Well, there's so much speculation right now, so I'm trying to separate the truth from fiction right now. And the speculation is that this phone, which is being called the Nexus One, will sell direct to consumers, meaning that there has been talk about actually having a Web site that consumers would go to, order the phone and be able to directly communicate with Google, bypassing the current model of today, which is you would go into a mobile phone provider store and pick up your phone with that particular carrier. So it looks like there's a potential that it could bypass that to some degree.

Now there also have reports coming from the Wall Street Journal and others talking about a partnership with T-Mobile as the carrier - which does makes sense, Renee, because we are used to having our mobile phones subsidized by the carrier.

MONTAGNE: Well, back to this whole question of Google's investment in its own software, Android operating software: Won't, or wouldn't a phone sold by Google compete with other phones using Google software?

ARMSTRONG: Yeah. That's a great question. I mean, absolutely, they could be competing. Look, this is the - the bottom line is mobile apps are the new hotness with mobile devices, and more and more people are surfing the Web through mobile phones these days - or starting to, anyway - than they are starting from their laptops. And you have that mobility. So this is a key opportunity for Google to build more people to start using the Android operating system, which equates to more applications, more relevant uses and, oh, there's thing called advertising that they're very good at which could start to find itself on mobile phones, as well.

But I think what we have here is a direct opportunity for them to battle the iPhone. As much as the iPhone has been able to control the software and control to some extent even the hardware - I mean, control the hardware and the software at the same time, I think Google would love to see that same situation for them and to be able to kind of change the existing model of how we're used to seeing mobile phones developed and purchased.

MONTAGNE: And Mario, just - we got a couple of seconds. Any chance that Google would be able to offer lower calling rates?

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely, there's a chance that they could do that, and they have other systems in place that could help to do that.

MONTAGNE: Right.

ARMSTRONG: I mean, they have Google Voice. They have things that they could use over the Internet. We could see things over - voice over Internet protocol. So a lot of things still yet to come out from this, but we're keeping our eyes on it closely.

MONTAGNE: Mario, thanks a lot.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Mario Armstrong is MORNING EDITION's tech commentator and host of the radio show DIGITAL SPIN on Baltimore public radio station WEAA.

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