The Google Phone: Its Alive!

Confirming rumors that have been rampant since at least mid-decade, Google has admitted that it’s having its own smartphone built. Manufactured by Taiwanese phone-maker HTC and named the “Nexus One,” the new device will run on Google’s Android mobile operating system.

While the company hasn’t confirmed anything on marketing the device to the public, it’s expected to be on sale by mid-January – missing the holiday gift rush. A slightly cryptic entry on the Google Mobile Blog over the weekend said:

“We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe. This means they get to test out a new technology and help improve it.”

Because “dogfooding” is restricted to Google employees, the blog continued, “we cannot share specific product details.”

Those details have emerged in the blogosphere however, with various posters claiming that the Nexus One will feature an iPhone-like touch screen, a scroll wheel, two microphones, and a network connection that is unlocked – that is, not tied directly to a single carrier. Because it will run over GSM networks, it will be compatible only with T-Mobile and AT&T (T) service in the United States.

That means Verizon, which is spending millions to market the Droid, a Motorola device that runs on Android, will not be a carrier for the Nexus.

The first Android devices began appearing in the fall of 2008. While speculation that Google would market its own phone has been prevalent for years, many analysts have questioned why the search giant would want to enter the fiercely competitive market for mobile devices, which is dominated by Apple (AAPL), Samsung, and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIMM).

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