A new wave of controversy has erupted in Silicon Valley over whether or not Google is finally creating its very own Google-branded phone to rival Apple's iPhone.
According to the TechCrunch blog, Google is tinkering away on a “super” Android device that promises to be thinner than all existing iPhone and Android devices.
The blog claims that the Android-powered phones released by the likes of HTC and Samsung have just been a warm-up to the Google Phone as the internet giant seeks to dominate the mobile sphere.
“Google is building their own branded phone that they'll sell directly and through retailers. They were long planning to have the phone ... available by the holidays, but it has now slipped to early 2010,” the blog said.
It also predicts the phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer and have Google branding.
When Google released its Android operating system last year, it put to rest many of the rumours about the company entering the hardware space.
Google itself has been quoted as saying it preferred to sit on the software side of the smartphone equation.
"We're excited to see just how far the platform has come in one year ... As more carriers and handset manufacturers turn to open platforms, we anticipate this growth will only continue,” it said recently.
But one of the weaknesses in its strategy is a lack of control over devices bearing the Android software. Although a number of Android phones have been released in Australia so far this year, none have yet been able to match the appeal of the iPhone.
“There won't be any negotiation or compromise over the phone's design of features – Google is dictating every last piece of it. No splintering of the Android OS that makes some applications unusable. Like the iPhone for Apple, this phone will be Google's pure vision of what a phone should be,” TechCrunch said.
However, numerous other industry watchers refuted the report, saying Google would gain little by derailing existing relationships with handset makers.
Market researchers such are Gartner are already predicting that the dominance of Apple's popular handset could be toppled by Google's Android mobile platform within three years.
"The iPhone is all about user experience but Apple can only produce a small number of handsets and not everyone wants an iPhone handset. They will remain strong but they won't take over world," Robin Simpson, a researcher at Gartner, said.
HTC has proven to be the most prolific developer of Android devices to date.
It already has the Dream and Magic handsets on the market in Australia, and the company announced two more yesterday, adding the HTC Hero and Tattoo to its line-up.
HTC says the new handsets are based on personalisation and accessibility, allowing users to create tailored profiles around specific functions or times such as weekends versus work days.
Dell is also preparing to make its first splash in the smartphone business soon with the Android-based Mini 3, which will initially be sold in China and Brazil.
This story was originally published in the Technology section.