The much anticipated Google phone is scheduled to make its debut September 23rd on the T-Mobile network. The phone will be co-branded with Google, HTC (phone manufacturer), and T-Mobile. It will be interesting to see how all of these brands get represented. The phone will have a retail price of $199. The Wall Street Journal quotes T-Mobile officials as saying the phone will include “aggressively priced” data plans. It will be the first phone to run Android, an operating system developed by Google and its partners. Google hopes that other carriers, including Sprint, will follow T-Mobile’s lead with Android powered phones of their own. Verizon Wireless is being somewhat coy about their Android plans, and AT&T has its wagon hitched to the iPhone for now.
It’s already clear that the Google phone won’t reach the mania achieved by the iPhone and 3G iPhone launches. Some will interpret that lack of comparable buzz as evidence of a failed launch. But I think such analysis misses the point. Google is less interested in selling handsets, and more interested in pushing a mobile operating system “open source” movement. Conceivably, success at such a movement draws more people to the mobile web – and more people on the mobile web leads to more demand for search. Google doesn’t care whether consumers access that search through Android, Symbian, or other mobile operating platforms. What matters most is more demand for search, and Google wins in that environment regardless. The mobile web is the next frontier for Google’s growth. Android is simply a means to a bigger end. Google co-founder Larry Page’s quote in a recent CNET post confirms this approach, “As people get better phones, they do 20 times more searches.”