According to TechCrunch, “Google is building their own branded phone that they’ll sell directly and through retailers. They were long planning to have the phone be available by the holidays, but it has now slipped to early 2010. The phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer but will only have Google branding.”
The still unknown device would primarily be intended for data and would use VoIP for its calls. At least AT&T has expressed interest in supplying the network for the phone and could let customers pay as little as $20 per month for access, although TechCrunch understands that “conditions” may be involved at that price.
AT&T is known to make exceptions for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile users that only want data service, but making it a standard plan would be unusual. The iPhone and some other devices are often required to have voice plans attached as the cost of the device itself needs the voice plan to recoup the subsidy.
It coincides with Google itself recently buying Gizmo5, a startup that offers end-to-end VoIP calls. Google Voice carries a certain element of VoIP but still requires that customers already have an existing phone plan; it only reroutes calls through a central online number, using conventional service both for the outbound call as well as at the final destination.
Note: If data plans on mobile phones become common and network operators start allowing tethering, there is a huge potential for vehicle manufacturers to offer connected navigation services using the driver’s mobile phone.