(Updated with comments from Simeonov)
A venture capitalist says he has caught wind of a project at Google to make its own phone, and has details from an “inside source.”
There have long been rumors that a Google phone is in the works, but nothing has been confirmed. Simeon Simeonov, of Polaris Venture Partners, says his source has told him that it will look like the following:
* Blackberry-like, slick device
* C++ core w/ OS bootstrap (some version of Linux?)
* Optimized Java running on the C++ core (similar to what Andy did at Danger)
* Vector-based presentation courtesy of Skia’s technology
* Many services, including VoIP
This type of phone architecture is similar to the ideal mobile stack I’ve written about previously. It is interesting that Google is going with vector-based presentation, a la Flash Lite, as opposed to DHTML/AJAX.
There’s more to the post, which is worth reading. But dissecting it closely, we find difficult to tell say how much Simeonov has pinned this down. In his post, he appears to search for confirmation himself, referring at one point to a Skia acquisition, which he says “ties together the Google Phone story for me.” But it is clear something is going on. Whether Google’s working mainly only on a mobile operating system (no hardware), or actually comes out with its own hardware, you’ll still be able to be able to call it a Google phone.
We’ve contacted Simeonov and Google for comment, and will update if necessary (Update: see below).
In January, Engadget said it was leaked a photo of the phone (thumbnail above).
[Update: We just got off the phone with Simeonov, and he expressed surprise at how freely some blog posts have interpreted what he wrote. The scope of his insight is limited, he admitted. What is clear, though, is that Google is working on a complete phone stack, he said. “Whether it will be a Google branded device or whether Google will go to people and get that stack, just like Windows Mobile…or Palm OS, embedded in other devices, is unclear, but signs are leading to the former.”
Why does he think Google will want to dictate the hardware too? Look at Apple, he says. Apple’s selling point for its iPhone is that it controls both the hardware and software completely, and if you’re a partner or user, you have the option of being on board or not, he explained. Microsoft, on the other end of the spectrum, says ‘We sort of control the software, but you can mess with it in other ways — for example, by taking out the IE browser, and putting in Opera.”
He said Google itself may not even be sure about where it is on the spectrum between Apple and Microsoft, because it is in a complex dance with multiple players, such as with carriers about ad revenue share and distribution. On the one hand, Google has a great brand, but it’s not like Apple, where its brand is associated with hardware. However, Simeonov says “it doesn’t feel Googlish” to forgo the hardware, and let its operating system be loaded on any device. Screens vary significantly across mobile devices, which means Google’s ability to deliver ads will vary, as would the user’s experience. Google will want to set a high bar, which is why Simeonov is thinks it more likely to be full-fledged all-Google phone. “But this is pure speculation,” he concludes.]
[Update II: Google’s Michael Kirkland just got back to us, with the standard response: “Google doesn’t comment on market rumor or speculation.”]