One last bit of excitement to come out of Sun Valley: A report that suggests Google execs intend to build their own branded phone. That’s a big deal, since Google has repeatedly said it isn’t building its own phone — it is supplying the Android OS, and handset manufacturers will make their own devices.
The problem is that the report doesn’t appear to be accurate. The confusion: The Hollywood Reporter’s Dan Cox, in an article summarizing a semi-formal press conference Google’s three top execs held on Friday, says the Google guys “used the opportunity to talk about the inroads the company is making with its own branded mobile phone as a replacement for the iPhone”. But Dan’s piece doesn’t make any other reference to the Gphone, Android, or any other Google phone.
If the Google guys had talked about a major change in their mobile strategy, you’d think the story might have appeared in other outlets. We understand that there were at least 7 other reporters at the event, representing Reuters, the AP, Bloomberg, the NYT, the NY Post, CNBC and the FT. None of them have followed up on the story.
So what exactly did the Google guys say? We asked Reuters’s meticulous (and helpful) Ken Li, who doesn’t have a transcript of the event, but was happy to let us peer into his notebook:
Here’s the short passage where larry starts talking about android, but gives a nod to what most people thinks of android as…then eric jumps in to make a joke about it. Rest of the mobile session is spent talking about advertising and other features. Nothing jumped out as new. They were very careful about not dropping the bomb on us:
–larry: we have android phones obvioulsy. I know that there’s a hypothetical google phone
eric: they’ll call it the google phone no matter what you call it. we’re just going to have to deal with this
larry: i really like using my android phone. i have one in my phone i use both (berry and android). i really enjoy using…
Later in the interview eric refers to the phone as the “quote unquote google phone”, which again I took as him referring to phones with android. That said he never got into the details and never denied that they were building a google branded phone, because no one asked.
So, we think that settles it — the Google guys were talking about the fact that they’re not producing their own branded phone, and that there isn’t a “Google phone”. And something got mixed up in the translation. No knock against the THR – plenty of stuff to keep track off in a session like this, and they certainly didn’t broadcast this as a scoop, which leads us to believe they were making a reference to something they thought everyone already knew. Please enjoy the rest of your Sunday.