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Monday, March 19, 2007
Google Phone Rumours Still Alive

Google is developing its own mobile phone, according to industry insiders and analysts.

A Google official in Spain last week acknowledged the company is "investigating" such a project, Reuters reports.

Google isn't commenting directly on leaks from Europe and the United States which describe a low-cost, Internet-connected phone with a color, wide-screen design. Newspaper and blog reports in recent months have Google shopping its phone design to potential mobile phone manufacturing partners in Asia.

Gadget enthusiasts who only two months ago were obsessed with the potential revolutionary impact on the phone industry of Apple's iPhone device -- due out in June and at prices starting at $500 -- have shifted their attention to whether Google is developing an even lower-cost phone.

To be sure, feverish speculation about Google products has been wrong before. Google was widely reported to be building its own line of PCs a year ago. What in fact materialized was a set of free software programs designed to make any existing Windows PCs easier to use.

But Richard Windsor, a phone analyst with brokerage Nomura in London, told clients late last week that unspecified Google representatives at a major European conference in Germany had confirmed the company is working on its own phone device.

Simeon Simeonov, a Boston-based venture capitalist with Polaris Venture Partners, said in a March 4 blog post that an "inside source close to the company" had informed him that Google was developing a "Blackberry-like, slick device."

The device Simeonov describes could handle voice over Internet phone-calling. He said it is being developed within a 100-person mobile phone group at Google that includes Andy Rubin, the creator of Sidekick, a popular phone/Internet device that he developed at a prior company he founded, Danger Inc.

Lending further clues, Isabel Aguilera, head of Google's Iberian operations, was quoted last week in Spanish news site as acknowledging the existence of a part-time project by some Google engineers to develop a mobile phone.

In her interview at (in Spanish), the Google executive said her company "has been investigating" developing a mobile phone that works both as an Internet access device and as a way to extend Internet use to emerging markets customers.

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