google's venture into mobile hardware

this we week a rumor surfaced that google was working on a phone. i know that my belief in what i’m about to tell you is driven mostly by wishful thinking and my hatred for the current contract-based business model of carriers. let me repeat. i know its a rumor. and i know that no matter how much i want it, it may never happen. my justification is as follows.

mobile is on the rise. it was one of the primary motivators for android. just as google is a desktop portal for many, they would like to be your mobile portal as well. only one problem: most mobile phones are worthless when it comes to browsing. moreover, smart phones with nice screens that are conducive to browsing are expensive, especially outside a contract. so how do you increase adoption? make your own cheap alternative.

in an attempt to put a smart device in the hands of every red-blooded american, and thus gain access to ludicrous amounts of mine-able data, it is my prediction (read: wish) that google and htc will partner to offer a smart phone on par with current smart phones for under $199.

the one flaw i try to push out of my little fantasy is the fact that mobile phones are heavily subsidized by carrier contracts. this is the reason phones cost so much outside of a contract. what this means is that the hardware you’re buying is, in all likelihood, worth much more than the $199 you paid for it. google has to find a way to keep hardware costs low to meet the $199 price point.