The Original 'Google Phone' Revealed

As part of Google's court case continues against Oracle over Android, a set of slides have been shown today exposing photos of the original Google Phone: the first proposed Android device from way back in 2006.

The slides mention Java integration multiple times, the crux of Oracle's accusation that the company have used their coding without permission.  The device, as you can see, looks most alike to the HTC Cha Cha, taking the portrait hardware keyboard format.  Other sections of the presentation demonstrate how two years before the release of Android with the G1 (and one year before the iPhone debuted in the market), Google were already well on their way with providing hardware with a "broad array of mobile products," and a "basic phone user interface."

Slides indicate that this would give Google "low acquisition cost, high end data customers," which has sort of come true with Android.  The amount of data used by customers has been a valuable asset; but the cost of the devices themselves have varied greatly with the many different hardware-based entry points to the market.

The key addition to this particular device here, which was eventually removed upon the release of the first actual 'Google Phone,' The G1, was the hardware buttons: an assumption was made that these were always going to be necessary...how wrong they were.  The specs of the device are thin on the ground; but here's what is detailed:

 

  • ARMv9 Processor (at least 200MHz)
  • 2-megapixel camera with dedicated hardware button
  • GSM (3G preferred)
  • 64MB of RAM and ROM
  • miniSD for external storage
  • Bluetooth 1.2
  • QVGA display with 16-bit color or better
  • USB support

 

Google approached T-Mobile with this device, and called this partnership a winner based upon the unlimited data plan that the carrier offered.  The Mountain View-based company had originally planned to make a change to the pricing structure of T-Mobile's contract plan, proposing the unlimited data for $9.99...which didn't really come to fruition as the G1 went on sale with $25 data plans.

This makes for an interesting insight into the development process of Google's mobile developments.  Granted it sort of catches them red-handed in a court case that could potentially cost them billions; but it forms a timeline of design changes that shows just how unsure many OEMs were of an entirely touch-based interface, and how much power Google thought it could potentially have in making carrier demands, compared to how much it really had.

Jason England