What the “Gphone” Means for Consumers: Good News & Bad News

Google CellphoneSo Google today announced its plans to be the latest force in the cellphone industry. The gist of the press release is that Google has partnered with 34 companies to develop and release an “open source” operating system, user interface, and applications. What this means in terms of the highly anticipated Gphone is best explained in the words of the Google engineer in charge of the project, Andy Rubin: “We are not building a GPhone; we are enabling 1,000 people to build a GPhone.”

This is really only news if you’re a developer. As for what this means for technology consumers specifically, see below for a compilation of the most relevant and interesting quotes surrounding the latest news of the pseudo-Gphone:

NYTimes: “[Google’s] ultimate goal is to cash in on the effort by selling advertisements to mobile phone users, just as it does on Internet-connected computers.”

WSJ: “At the core, Google is betting that easier consumer access to Internet services from their mobile phones will lead consumers to use its services more—which has been the case with Web access on the personal computer.”

NYTimes: “Users would have the ability to load up their phones with new features and third-party programs.”

Engadget (commenter named Carlos): “Open Source is great and all for developers but very few open source programs receive the polished look consumers are expecting. Without one company pushing for a complete polished package I have a feeling this will turn into something like the Ubuntu OS project. A sort of Mobile OS for tech hobbyist. ”

WSJ Blog: “Google hopes its new operating system will turn phones into mini computers that are just as useful as PCs… Google’s operating system is open, meaning anyone can write software for it. That includes bad guys, who will doubtlessly develop viruses and other malicious code for these phones, which unsuspecting Google phones owners will download… The way to combat this is to develop anti-virus and anti-malware software for phones and to develop security procedures similar to those that have evolved for PCs over the last several years.”

GigaOm: “Google says it’s open source, letting you download it and do whatever — except that carriers can create their own locked-down versions of the software…”

WSJ Blog: “if Google succeeds, there’s going to be some really cool software for phones. Most of it will be targeted to consumers – things like social-networking or online-shopping software.”

See chart below for more of what consumers can expect as this technology progresses; it comes from this WSJ article (Google’s PR machine doesn’t have to do much to get one story covered multiple times per publication). For comprehensive coverage, see Techmeme’s insanely long listing of news and blogs that are covering the announcement.

Gphone Changes