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The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) is quoting “people familiar with the matter” in stating that within two weeks Google will announce plans to bring Google-powered phones to market by the middle of next year. Apparently, Google’s goal is “[T]o make applications and services as accessible on cellphones as they are on the Internet.”
But resistance from wireless carriers is still mounting, and Google won’t win this battle without a fight. Right now, most consumers are locked into using whatever phones and services are provided by their cellphone provider (which is exactly where cellphone providers want their customers). Google is hoping to change that by releasing phones that are “open.”
Google-powered phones will come already configured with a bundle of the most popular Google services, such Google search, Google Maps, YouTube and Gmail. But that would just be the beginning. The idea would be to stimulate a community of independent software developers that have the necessary tools to build additional phone features.
As the article states, “Developers could, for instance, more easily create services that take advantage of users’ Global Positioning System location, contact lists and Web-browsing habits. They would also be able to interact with Google Maps and other Google applications. The idea is that a range of new social networking, mapping and other services would emerge, just as they have on the open, mostly unfettered Web.”
Of course, the concept of “open” phones has its downside too. Just like spam and phishing are rampant on the open web, their next prey may be open phone consumers. Regardless, I’m willing to take my chances. Here’s hoping Google can pull this off.