GPhone: Low Cost, Low Tech?
The highly-touted, much-rumored GPhone may (or may not) actually be a reality—but it may not take the form we’re all expecting.
Ever since the rumor first began late last year, the GPhone is portrayed as the next-gen iPhone. We all hoped, however, that it would be the cheaper alternative. However, USA Today reports today that the GPhone may go another route: low cost, low tech.
Aside from the most recent infamous leaked pictures (which confirm the low cost/low tech theory), USA Today cites Google’s recent acquisitions of Jaiku and Zingku as evidence of this direction. (Okay, the didn’t really cite the photos. But they should have.)
That scenario gained credence last week after the search giant announced its acquisition of an obscure Finnish start-up, Jaiku, holder of key Short Message Service patents. SMS is text messaging, the technology that enables the exchange of short messages between billions of ordinary cellphones. . . .
Jaiku is key to a strategy Google has nurtured. To help its mobile push, it also acquired mobile social network Zingku and amassed expertise by participating in WebKit, an open-source browser development community. And it has expanded “Google SMS,” a free service that sends answers to inquisitive texters.
The low tech/low cost phone would be “aimed at young users” and “sell at a fraction of the price of an iPhone, RIM BlackBerry, Palm (PALM)Treo or Microsoft (MSFT) Windows Mobile smart phone,” according to Trip Chowdhry, analyst at Global Equities Research. Of course, we have to ask: how young is “young”? Is this “young” as Neil Patel defines it, or “young” as Andy defines it?
There is (at least) one problem with the plan:
One major hitch: Cellphone carriers are insisting on a cut of ad revenue. “The carriers want money any time the phones are turned on, especially if the call is to Google,” [The Envisioneering Group’s research director Richard] Doherty says.
However, this doesn’t appear to seriously impede Google’s rumored plans:
Device makers have basic GPhone designs ready to go. Once Google signs an agreement with a launch carrier, “GPhones could flow into the market in a matter of weeks,” he says.