Apple uses a totalitarian approach with the iPhone. Microsoft offers a mad grab for developers and hardware vendors alike. The two methods at which these two companies provide mobile services are complete opposites. Each have their pro’s and con’s. Apple’s uniformed approach brings tight integration and unparalleled compatibility. Microsoft’s approach with Windows Mobile allows a daunting list of choices as well as easier access for developers. Until now, Google has taken more or less the same path that Windows Mobile and Microsoft trod. That is, Google released Android to the masses and allows hardware and software makers to tweak the open OS into any configuration they want. Because of this, Android is already seeing striations bringing clear differences. These differences can be seen between the likes of the stock Android build, HTC’s Sense UI, Sony’s Rachel, Motorola’s BLUR as well as more that are sure to come. At some point, as Android becomes more widespread, that tight cohesiveness will wither away. But does it have to? What if Google enters it’s own market?

That could very well become a reality if word from Ashok Kumar, analyst at Northeast Securities is true. Kumar claims Google will release their own branded phone (ala iPhone) by years end with a Google branded netbook packing Chrome OS early next year. A Google branded device straight from Google would be pretty tight and ensure the utmost compatibility with everything Google. Though such an approach would surely step on a few manufacturers toes don’t you think? What’s odd though is Google releasing their own device right when Android is really starting to take off.

You would think they would have launched their own device in the beginning to spur growth and excitement. Instead, launching their own handset right in the thick of things means it’s either going to suck and piss off other Android supporters or be a total failure and blend into obscurity…

  1. First hand, if Google makes their own phone, as mentioned before, they will be able to support a an environment that behaves much like Apple’s tight, closed eco-system except because it’s Android, more open services and methods will be used. It seems like a win for consumers right? Offering such a phone will mean Google can keep a close eye on their version of Android and at least for users under Google’s brand will enjoy seamless integration with a slew of services and products.
  2. Secondly, I can also see the other side of the coin. While bringing in this tight environment would be highly beneficial, with Android beginning to finally spread to other manufacturers and carriers with growth this close from literally exploding, is now the right time for Google to introduce their own handset? Will making such a device push some potential hardware manufacturers out as they won’t see the point in competing with Google for Google? Is bringing their own handset even make sense now? Is it too late?

Word from the Kumar suggest HTC could be the possible home for such a device. The tip comes from reports that the Google phone will use Qualcomm chips — something HTC units all make use of. Another thing to make note of, a Google branded phone wouldn’t likely come from an one carrier or even any carrier at all. A phone of this nature seems more likely to come from places such as Best Buy, Radio Shack, and other electronics retailers/booths free of carrier constraints. Yes, this Google phone if truly sold unlocked will cost more up front, but absolute freedom from “the man” is pretty fulfilling is it not? All things considered, I don’t see this one materializing. There’s too many relationships at risk for Google if they so choose to make a device of their own.

Moving to the Chrome netbook, such a device makes more sense. Tweaking a netbook for a particular OS works wonders. I mean, look at Mac OS X and their hardware. It most often runs best on Mac hardware whereas Hackintosh’s while cool in their own regard, seem to constantly be plagued with performance issues. This Chrome netbook supposedly will break cover in early 2010 but honestly, how many people will pick up a watered down laptop just to get Chrome OS? Instead, I think we’re going to see hoards of people port Chrome OS over to their machines. More work indeed but it saves them from having to run on underpowered machinery.

I can’t write off this holy union yet however as when properly lubed, even weaker hardware can sing with an efficient and low resource OS. It is a form of Linux after all.

Unwired > The Street