The Mythical Gphone


Philip Elmer-DeWitt is a senior editor at Fortune.

Here's a fun exercise.

Do a Google search on the words "Gphone" and "two weeks." You'll get hundreds of thousands of hits, most of them saying pretty much the same thing: Google (GOOG) is about to unveil a cellphone that will change the world forever, or at least kill the Apple (AAPL) iPhone.

We've been skeptical all along, in part because Google has never shown any expertise -- or interest -- in building consumer electronics. And in part because the due date for the mythical Gphone was always shifting, always just a couple weeks or days away.

Today, we were assured by the
Wall Street Journal
-- an assurance echoed by a hundred newsites that should have known better -- was the day.

Did we get a Google phone? No.

What we got instead was a press release, a conference call, some self-indulgent videos, and a memo from Andy Rubin, the putative designer of the mythical phone (and hero of an adoring profile in The New York
Times
over the weekend), confirming what the naysayers have been saying all along: Google is not and will not be in the business of building phones.

What it's offering -- and trying to sell to the people who actually build the phones -- is an operating system and some tools for writing cellphone applications. It's a worthy enterprise and I wish them well. What it is not -- as they are the first to say -- is a Gphone.

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