Now, Google eyes making & selling smartphones

The giant has already distributed a new phone to many of its workers

On Friday, Google distributed a new phone running its own Android operating software to many of its employees. On the messaging service Twitter, some Google employees described the device as a “Google phone,” renewing speculation that the company is getting ready to release a mobile phone with its own brand. Google employees who asked not to be identified confirmed recently that the company was indeed developing new hardware and software for Android phones and coming up with new ways to get those phones into the hands of consumers, but they would not give more details. One Google employee said that the new phone, which is being made by HTC, a major Taiwanese cellphone maker, was designed from the ground up by Google.

Direct sales

The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site late on Saturday, that Google would sell the phone directly to consumers rather than through carriers, which sell the bulk of mobile phones in the United States.

The move, if confirmed, would signal a more aggressive effort by Google to become a force in mobile devices. Google has long insisted that it is not interested in building or selling phones, saying it prefers to rely on hardware partners and wireless carriers to flood the market with a wide variety of Android-powered phones.

A shift toward branding, distributing or even dictating the exact hardware design of an Android phone could also put Google at odds with those partners, which currently include Verizon Wireless and Motorola.

On Saturday Google acknowledged on a corporate blog that it was indeed distributing a new class of Android phones to employees to experiment with new features. Mario Queiroz, a Vice-President of product management, said, “This means they get to test out a new technology and help improve it.”

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