Is Google Readying One Android Phone To Rule Them All?

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Rumors of a Google smartphone refuse to go away, and thanks to a report in TechCrunch saying the Google phone was "absolutely confirmed," talk of a Google-branded smartphone -- maybe named GPhone? -- has once again reached the boiling point.

It makes sense, really: Google's Android OS is the hottest mobile operating system of the fall, and is currently seen on many of the season's most high-profile smartphone releases, from Motorola's Droid to HTC's Hero. If Google has its own GPhone, or whatever it's called, on deck for early next year, it'll be riding its own Android wave at a good time.

TechCrunch's Michael Arrington fanned the flames of GPhone speculation Tuesday, stating that the Phone was not only on its way -- confirmed to TechCrunch by an unidentified source Arrington described as reliable -- but also will be sold both direct from Google and through various retailers.

Arrington further reported that the Google phone was originally going to be ready in time for the 2009 holiday shopping season, but has since been delayed until early 2010, and that Google will be launching an advertising blitz around the alleged GPhone starting in January.

Google would most likely not be the manufacturer, Arrington added, but if it gives that job to an HTC or Samsung, it will still brand the phone as Google.

Arrington describes the phone as "Google's pure vision of what a phone should be," and suggests that "Google is dictating every last piece of it" to make it a prime Android-based contender to Apple's iPhone and other smartphone juggernauts.

Even if rumors of a Google phone turn out unfounded, Google will end 2009 knowing it has a seat at the smartphone table. The Android OS, now in version 2.0 on Motorola's Droid, is one of the fastest growing mobile OSes, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently predicted that Android's growth would be "explosive" next year.

If Google does have a GPhone on deck, that will inevitably test its ties with HTC, Motorola and other manufacturers running its Android OS already. But if a Google phone's a hit, how long will those ties even matter?

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