Analyst: Google Developing Phone Software, Not Phone Itself

Google Inc. (GOOG) is building software to run services on cell phones rather than gearing up to build its own phone, as many industry sources have speculated, one Wall Street analyst said on Thursday.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a research note to clients that Google appears to be building software for Web search on cell phones and location-finding services to work with Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone and other cell phones.

"We believe Google is working with, not against, Apple in the mobile world," Munster said.

In recent months, various reports have described how Web search leader Google could be developing a "Gphone" — a low-cost, Internet-connected phone with a color, wide-screen design.

Newspaper and blog reports in recent months have Google shopping its phone design to potential cell phone manufacturing partners in Asia.

Gadget enthusiasts who only two months ago were obsessed with the potential revolutionary impact on the phone industry of Apple's iPhone device — due out in June and at prices starting at $500 — have shifted their attention to whether Google is developing an even lower-cost phone.

"We obviously need another mythical mobile to drool over and speculate about — and the natural candidate is, of course, the so-called Google phone," geek hardware site Engadget wrote earlier this month at

"Mobile is an important area for Google," Google spokeswoman Erin Fors said last week. "We remain focused on creating applications and establishing and growing partnerships with industry leaders to develop innovative services for users worldwide. However, we have nothing further to announce."

Speculation about Google products has been wrong before.

Google was widely reported to be building its own line of personal computers a little over a year ago. What in fact materialized was a set of free software programs designed to make any existing Windows PCs easier to use.

Over the past year, Google has branched out beyond computers to bring Web search, e-mail, mapping and other Internet services to millions of new and existing phone browsers worldwide.

Rivals Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) also are racing to run Web services on cell phones.