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Google phone-spotting reaches fever pitch

Fishy tails and fishy tales

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Inventive rumors of Google's "phone" have circulated for many months - and The Register brought the first confirmation of the company's plans as long ago as March.

But for many, fantasy is still preferable to hard fact - much as sex-starved sailors, who'd been at sea for months, would see a mermaid where there was merely a walrus or erotically-charged pile of rocks.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal, which has higher admissibility standards for its evidence than your average blogger, reported that the software platform Google has been developing would begin to appear in phones next year. Expect an announcement in the next fortnight, suggested the paper.

France Telecom, whose Orange network is one of the carrier partners named by the Journal, denied it was in talks with Google.

Not to be outdone, Reuters says that No.1 US operator Verizon is in talks to bundle "Google applications" with its phones.

That's certainly more of a hairy walrus rather than a girl with a fishy tail - Google strikes similar deals with operators all over the world.

The advertising giant cast a shadow over the Symbian smart phone show in London earlier this month, with Google considered a far more serious disruption to existing suppliers than Apple.

Why?

Well, as we reported in March, Google considers the phone merely a platform for its core advertising business. This patent offers a clue and confirmation:

Google patent application: SMS billing

A "free phone OS" makes the billions invested in sophisticated operating systems from Microsoft and Symbian hard to justify. All Google needs is to amortise the $3 an operator or OEM might have paid to these manufacturers, over the lifetime of a phone.

Does anyone seriously doubt its ability to do this? After all, Google can afford to "give away" a search engine - and much else.

More on this later today. ®

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