Google is reportedly in the process of developing a phone that can make voice calls and access the Web without requiring the user to pay a monthly service charge.
Rumors of the so called gPhone have been circulating for months, and at various times company executives have both confirmed and denied its existence.
The latest report comes from no less a source than the Wall Street Journal, who reports that Google is currently showing a prototype device off to potential manufacturers and wireless carriers.
No Monthly Charges
Many people use phones that are free when they sign a monthly service contract. Google is hoping to create a phone that will be free of monthly charges.
Users will pay for their phone by looking at advertisements served by Google whenever this device's web browser is used.
Exactly what the phone Google is designing will look like is not yet known. The WSJ's sources indicate that the company is showing off at least two prototypes: one with a sliding keyboard and another with its keyboard fixed in place.
In addition, Google also seems open to the idea of letting other companies design their own phones, but use its software. In this situation, it reportedly suggests the device include 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, and a camera.
Not surprisingly, at the heart of this device will be a sophisticated web browser Google is currently developing. This will almost certainly allow users to access this company's wide array of online services, from email to maps to spreadsheets.
Offered by Whom?
According to the WSJ, Google is in talks with a wide variety of wireless carriers about offering the gPhone. T-Mobile USA is supposedly the closest to signing a definite agreement to offer it.
Google's recent announcement that it's going to participate in an upcoming auction for wireless spectrum raises the possibility that this company won't need a carrier for this device;
Whatever form the gPhone eventually takes, it isn't expected to debut until next year at the earliest.