Google Phone Not Ready for Santa

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NEW YORK, (TheStreet) -- Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) might be late to the Android party.

Google's plan to have its own Android phone available for the holidays, as first reported by TheStreet last month, might get pushed to early next year, according to tech blogger Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.

If true, the news will be eagerly greeted by other Android players like Motorola (Stock Quote: MOT), Verizon, Sprint and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile. Each of those shops have new Android phones in the market like the Droid, and subsequently have big reasons to fear that a cheap, unlocked Google-designed phone would spoil the Christmas festivities.

"It would make sense, if they don't have anything in the market by Thanksgiving, that they aren't going to have it available for the holidays," says Northeast Securities analyst Ashok Kumar, whose sources at Google's design manufacturer partners first tipped him off to the Google-branded phone.

As we reported in October, Google is working with manufacturers to create a Google-branded phone that runs on the Android operating system. Google is also working with contract manufacturers to produce a netbook computer to run on the Chrome software. The phones and the netbooks are expected to run on Qualcomm chips.

The hardware move would advance Google's pledge to provide consumers with mobile Internet devices that have user-determined features. The notion of a Google phone being sold through retailers is a bit disruptive to the industry's status quo. Typically, telco partners subsidize the customer's cost of the phones and restrict the types of features offered, like calls over the Internet.

Verizon made a big break from its rigid, so-called walled-garden tradition of mobile phone features last year as Apple's (Stock Quote: AAPL) iPhone at AT&T threatened to waltz away with the high-end smartphone market.

The closely watched Motorola Droid is designed to accommodate Google Voice, a cheap Net calling application, but efforts to install the software failed on a test model.

Google's plan is to put its applications and search service in as many hands as it can to expand its Internet advertising dominance beyond desktop computers. A big reason Google would push its unrestricted apps on its own phones and netbooks would be to force other players to compete with the same features.

Google doesn't want to wait for unfettered mobile Net opportunity, but it seems it will have to wait for the Google phone that makes it happen.

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