Remember WhatsOpen.com, the stealth search startup that piqued Google cofounder Sergey Brin's interest last month? Brin was so intrigued he told the founders to keep the company hush-hush. Now, however, a source has leaked screenshots of WhatsOpen's secret project. The company has a Web application which shows users nearby stores and their operating hours — "what's open." Click to viewBut I'm told by a source that WhatsOpen has also written the first wireless app for Google's new Android operating system. (You may know Android better as the software behind the still-mythical Googlephone.) Demo screenshots after the jump.
I've been saying it for ages: There is no Googlephone. Last week, at the Web 2.0 Summit conference, I finally got confirmation that Google's not getting into the cell-phone business. How? I overheard a rep from Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, chatting up a vice president at Google. Now, I know this particular executive is utterly guileless; she wouldn't lie. And when the Foxconn rep tried to pitch her on getting a contract to make the Googlephone, she replied, flat-out, "We're not making a Googlephone."
A UBS analyst is spreading rumors that Taiwanese manufacturer HTC will ship 50,000 cell phones running Google's mobile operating system by the end of the year. That's not so hard to believe. Just don't call the devices Googlephones. We've been saying for months there is no such thing as a Googlephone, or an OS, really — instead, it's just cell-phone-optimized services from Google. The low order number just confirms that Google knows it can't be a player in the hardware business. Expect the user interface on the phones to look a lot like Google Docs for Mobile, a wireless version of Google's Web-apps suite launched today. And here's a question: If we can run Google Docs on any phone, why would we — or Google — need a Googlephone? Right. That's what we've been telling you all along.
I've said it for months: There is no Googlephone. At last, the "industry analysts" so often consulted by reporters at newspapers have come around to sharing my point of view, according to a story in the New York Times. Google is, indeed, working on cell-phone software, including an operating system. But all this software, I believe, is a sideshow. Before you get all excited about the prospects of a Google phone OS, remember: Google is all about advertising. Always has been, always will be.
Even with the controversial price cut and an impending European launch, the Apple's iPhone is so passé. Why? The entire Valley (or almost everyone) is convinced search giant Google is about to enter the telecom business in a big way. They just have no idea what way: A software platform? Their own handsets? A significant wireless services revolution using the wireless spectrum soon to be auctioned? No one seems to be sure, but — just as everyone was confident Apple could deliver a better, consumer-focused handset — they're also sure that Google will do something that will overturn the existing mobile apple cart. And do so in a way that others can capitalize for themselves unlike Apple who prefers to keep profits to themselves. And while some hope to see an unlikely battle between partners Apple and Google, what they really hope to see is one of these giants break down the walled gardens controlled by the telecom carriers.
After persistent rumors of a Googlephone — Google's supposed answer to Apple's iPhone — failed to pan out in the U.S., the true Googlephone believers are looking abroad. Rediff, an Indian news and information portal, reports that Google will launch a "Gphone" in India in two weeks. Unlikely, unless, like Valleywag, you believe that Google's strategy is to turn every phone into a Googlephone.