Google Planning $8 Billion Worldwide ‘Gphone' Launch

From Staff Reports

Search-engine giant Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) is believed to be only weeks away from the worldwide launch of its “Google Phone,” or Gphone, service – a venture it’s planning to ante up as much as $8 billion to pursue. And Google has started talks with key wireless-service providers in India in the hope of landing a single, exclusive service provider, according to a Saturday story in the, the online news publishing arm of India’s biggest business-news daily, the Business Standard.

Some analysts say that Google wants to do a simultaneous global launch of the phone, and is right now waiting for approval of the device, before it can proceed. There is some controversy, however, with other analysts saying that they doubt Google would try and compete with Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) by developing its own device. Instead, these naysayers believe that Google would just create alliances with wireless-services providers.

[In a related story, reports continue to surface that hackers are continuing to find ways to “unlock” the new Apple iPhone so that it can be used on other networks than those authorized by Apple.]

But Gphone backers say that talks are taking place with Bharti Airtel (BOM: 532454) and Vodafone Essar [Vodafone Group PLC (NYSE: VOD) ], India’s No. 1 and No. 3 mobile phone operators, respectively, as well as the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam. Sources close to the development said a simultaneous launch across the United States and Europe can be anticipated, too, and that major announcements will soon be sent out to media organizations inside India and elsewhere around the world.

U.S. regulatory approval – expected soon, the reported – is the last major hurdle Google must cross, and it’s waiting until it has everything lined up in advance before it launches its “globally telephony foray,” the publication stated.

In India, it is also believed to be in talks with Indian providers to offer data content and platforms including Instant Messaging (IM) and Search functions. However, these could not be confirmed.
A Google spokesperson said, “We don’t comment on market rumor or speculation. However, Google is committed to providing users with access to the world’s information, and mobile becomes more important to those efforts every day. We’re collaborating with partners worldwide to bring Google search and applications to mobile users everywhere. However, we have nothing to announce at this time.”
Reports of the search-engine giant moving into handset manufacturing as a countermove to the big-buzz Apple iPhone launch has been making the rounds in cyberspace and international media for some time. These reports suggest that Google has developed a prototype that will hit the markets in a year’s time. The U.S.-based Google has neither confirmed nor denied these reports. The Wall Street Journal, too, had reported that Google had invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the project and was involved in discussions with U.S.-based T-Mobile (NYSE:AT&T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ), reported.
Globally, Google is likely to participate in the upcoming auction for 700 MHz spectrum for which it is prepared to spend up to $4.6 billion. The firm is also introducing ads to YouTube videos, which could be replicated on mobile phones. Ironically, Google recently partnered with Apple to produce services such as e-mail and maps for its iPhone handset. And Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, said recently that more Google services for the iPhone would be rolled out, said.