As if it couldn't get any more interesting with a Google Phone, there's an updated report suggesting that the Google Phone may be a data only, VoIP device that does away with your usual voice plan and minutes. Take a step back and imagine that. If the Google Phone was to step away from the carrier stranglehold of minutes and simply route calls through Google Voice and use the recently acquired Gizmo5 as the onboard VoIP service, it truly would be the Google Phone. Your phone, no carrier influence, all delivered through data. It could work.

It's unclear how supportive the carriers would be of a data-only Google Phone considering it directly affects their primary business. In fact, the precedent of accepting a data-only Google Phone could make way for gigantic changes to the way the carriers do business. And we know how much the carriers love change. But AT&T has given Windows Mobile and Blackberry users data-only plans for quite some time (no data only option for iPhone), so it's not an impossible stretch.

The problem is of course, how the average consumer will see the move and if they'll buy into it. For us at Android Central the answer is simple, if Google does deliver a Google Phone, we're in for the ride. If it's data only and uses VoIP for calls, even better (we've been itching for data only devices anyway). But would it be too complicated for the average consumer? Could they get around the idea of leaving carriers behind and using VoIP for phone calls? Would it still be subsidized? Is this kind of Google Phone targeted to only the tech-savvy?

Also, if Google does release this data-only, VoIP Google Phone, it kind of, sort of sidesteps direct competition with its current Android-making partners. We're sure they'll still be unhappy about Google's power move but it's certainly a better scenario than Google releasing a 'true phone'.

In any case, there's a ton of questions regarding the potential of the Google Phone that can't be fully answered until Google officially announces the thing. But the data-only, VoIP version might be the scenario we love the most considering the novelty of it and the sweeping changes it might start in the industry.

What do you guys think?



Reader comments

What If The Google Phone Was A Data Only, VoIP Device ?


Where do I sign up, anything that make the carriers rethink how they treat consumers, can't be all that bad. I'll take two of those!!

Right now it would only really work with one carrier to have reliable voip calls without depending on wi-fi... I'm for it..

this is surely a game changer. It will be an expensive phone but worth it if google can pull it off. i mean imagine the possibilities!

Not a chance in hell that I would buy a phone like that. Cell service is already unreliable and data service is even worse. Some areas aren't even 3G yet and VIOP just does not work in those aresa. Besides that I don't even like using Google Voice because it is all pushed thought there VOIP servers and the call quality SUCK. There is a delay, echo, and sometime the people can't hear you and you can't hear them. Personally, with out seeing the phone and build quality I can not comment on weather I would purchase it or not. However, based on a data service only/VIOP phone I can tell you I really couldn't give 2 shits for this phone.

It's going to happen sooner or later, with or without Google, but Google will make it happen sooner. With Google Voice we have a phone number assigned to a person rather than a home. In time we will take our cell phone anywhere in the country, call anyone in the country, no long distance charges, regardless of carrier. 4G and future upgrades will make cellular far more clear and reliable. It's a work in progress and I'm loving see it come about.

BTW, I've also had call quality issues with GV but I'm willing to give this some time, it will only get better.

when? with google voice, wave, and gmail, i would be one happy camper... would it be 3g? my question is how does it access the backbone?

There's a reason why data only plans are always around $60/month for a measly 5GB. It's to prevent stuff like this.

I argue that wireless carriers are going to have to adapt and realize that tying yourself to phone service won't last in the next decade, just like landlines. However, to make up for lost revenues, I suggest offering more mobile connected devices at REASONABLE rates. For example, $20/month to connect your laptop to a network, then $20/month for a netbook and $10-15/month for a phone. Of course, prices need to be figured out (i just pulled those out of my ass), but charging $60/month won't get anyone anywhere.

Interesting and exciting..........I'm curious as to how this really pans out. I deffinatly would not be one of the first to try this route because of all the wrinkles that would have to be ironed out in the first year alone to make it work right. However the idea has more than serious potential.

Google, you have my attention!

It ain't gonna happen. It's not minutes vs. bytes; it's access. Carriers control the access, when they figure out that data is being used instead of minutes, they'll just charge more for minutes.

Sounds like reinventing the wheel for me. As stated above: Carriers make rules. If google release voip only phone, they will just change price of datapackages to get 1:1.

Don't see it happening. It wouldn't make sense for Google to be in direct competition with handset providers because the public in general will go after a device made by Google as opposed to, say, Samsung. I have friends who thought the only Android phone was the Droid.

The second reason is that they would shoot themselves in the foot if they did that. In 2 weeks the Droid sold over 200,000 units. Google makes money off advertising. That means they now have over 200,000 more users searching which turns into ad revenue. Why strain that relationship and let Microsoft back into the game with these handset makers by reselling Zune to them as a counterstrike (don't get me wrong; I love Android. But it ain't Zune)? And even tho we're talking only data, with Fring available along with Skype, it would still strain relationships even with a data only device.

Then again, Google shares exactly one year ago today were $280/share. Prior to opening bell this morning it's $577/share. Even Steve Ballmer didn't know how Google could make money giving away a free OS. Industry analyst dogged Google when they IPL'd about their business model.

Obviously, lots of in-the-know people have been wrong in the past :-)

So Google is putting their software on another company's hardware, and using another company's service plans? Sounds like every other Google phone out there.

Who cares if it is data only? The carriers will jack up the prices of their data plans, and you'll get worse coverage than using the regular network.

From what I see consolidation of voice and data networks is inevitable. Some carriers already provide internet-connected picocells to help you if your house is in a reception blackspot; wouldn't it be easier if the calls were just routed over wi-fi, if that were available? After all, it already happens for data.

It's probably a good few years off. The internet should be up to handling the realtime data load, but the phone (and cellphone) networks are custom built for it, as well as for tracking a moving phone.

In any case, unless you are next to a wi-fi hotspot, you'll still be at the mercy of the carrier.

As for price plans; well! (Deep breath.) Assume 5Gb = 5,000,000,000 bytes (i.e. short gigabyte) and that 1 byte = 8 bits, $60 a month buys you 40,000,000,000 bits.

Assume that voice calls are encoded in AMR-WB at 12.65kbit/s (i.e. good standard mobile phone quality). This means 12650 bits/s, or 25300 bits/sec on a full duplex line; in turn this gives us 1,518,000 bits/minute for a voice call.

With your allowance of 40,000,000,000 bits/month, you could therefore make 26,350 minutes of calls a month. Not bad for $60, I would have thought. Even if you plan to use the 64kbit/s standard for landlines you'll still get over 5,000 call minutes. The downside? It includes both incoming and outgoing calls. But it's still pretty cheap, so data cost really isn't an issue here.

You all are seriously underestimating Google. If they have to, they will buy existing towers or build their own. They could even buy a company like TMobile if they had to.

This WILL happen and google is the one to make it happen.

We need sweeping changes in the phone industry. Google seems the only one in a position to take advantage of that and to be a catalyst for change. Government regulation could get in the way if the phone carriers scream loud enough but Google is pretty clever in that regard.

Here's the thing, if Google wanted to really get into the mobile phone industry they should have just went out and bought the old analog TV spectrum. Reality was they didn't. Right now Google has many great products out there for the public to use free of charge. These products have many forums to develop them and make them better. However there is no customer service involved. Google does not want to spend the time, money or man power to have to cater to non-self sufficient people (i.e. 97% of Verizon customers). Wireless customers in general are very needy, that's why cellular companies have brick and mortar stores all over the place. If everyone who used cell phones were self sufficient like Google users, they would have no need for stores. Everything could be done online like with Google products.
I think everything comes down to Google not wanting to have to deal with a whole new level of business, which is customer service. Way too much money is wasted by having people employed to deal with customer service issues and the problems that arise when dealing with customers.
It would be a great idea for Google to have a phone and an OS and provide service for mobile devices, i just don't think their ready for that kind of business yet, no matter how much money they have. Although if they were to slowly develope a partnership with a major carrier oh say like Verizon and let that company handle all of the customer service and the rest of the BS that goes along with wireless then I think they stand to make great leaps in the wireless industry.

Doesn't Skype already do this?? I mean its simplistic, no frills, no apps but its VoIP. A Google VoIP phone would not have the same coverage as traditional cell phones. Besides the VoIP phone capability, being an Android device with apps will make this phone attractive. Carriers will loose a fair number of customers that don't need the mobility a cell phone offers but have constant access to WiFi.


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google could setup a few WiMax towers in a metropolitan area and have their own wireless data network for data only phones. Or they could sell a Google phone off contract for prepaid plans on various networks. I think mobile data should be charged by the GB, at reasonable rates of course, like $1 for 1 GB... It is the most efficient use of a limited resource (bandwidth). The unlimited plans strain the network because a few people use most of the bandwidth.

A few points of note:

-Porting of your existing number to google voice will be critical. No one will change their number for this.

-T-mobile's new unlimited no contract plans fall into this perfectly and it almost seems like Tmo and Google are at it again. Think about it, T-Mobile doesn't even subsidize the phones anymore, you pay full price OUTSIDE of your regular rate plan on no interest payments. That's how they make the unlimited plans so cheap and will be perfectly compatible with a google phone voip model. Plus no contracts so what they are basically offering is a data plan that is superior to current wifi coverage.

-PREDICTION: The google phone is going to be the Creative Zii Trinity. It is going to have dual cameras for video conferencing, full HD output, Pico Projector, and Flandroid which will integrate a touch optimized version of Chrome OS and Google Wave that boots in 5 seconds and runs all your android apps with flash 10 and multitouch out the wahzoo...

Ok after being a ex blackberry storm user and dealing with a headach for a year the motorolla droid I just got is awesome. The google voice feAture is the best thing I think on this phone I use it for everything and its riduculously fast and accurate. A friend of mine tried out my phone he ditched his i-phone wich I was suprized. So after usi g this phone for two weeks the only iam still getting used to is the keyboard anyways if google came out with there own phone I say ohwell. if its an all data phone its kinda stupid considering what if ur not in range of a tower or wifi. I have Verizon and most of the time its great but in some areas the 3g sucks and the Internet is very slow and if yur drivin g and there isn't wifi then what? Good idea for those that live in cities and maybe the suburbs but yet again there gonna have to reassure the buyers that it will work, good luck for now my phone is perfect I love it

Verizon offers Unlimited Data plans on Blackberries and PDAs for $34.99 or $49.99 depending on whether one needs BES or (in olden days Wireless Sync). Voice calls made on such a plan are $.25 per minute. I do not know why one would not be able to get the same options on an Android handset.

I just conceived this idea tonight... did a little search for similar ideas out there ... and lo-and-behold Google is stealin' my thunder. Bah. Back to the drawing board.

I find it rather strange to argue against the idea of voip (as i see some people bulking at it). Once upon a time people didn't even answer their phones when they were not at home or at work.

considering that most of time I am living within range of my own wireless wifi solution at home or at work, the reliability of a data only connection is hardly a concern.

The emergence of cell phones has made everyone become slaves to technology, rather than having technology work for you. You can't drive, go to the beach, or have dinner without the possible intrusion of something "important" ringing to get your attention.

a data only plan might have limitations, but it would grow past that especially when it became an adopted standard.

part of the big problem in our economy is that business are trying to maintain business models based on a time already in our past. The companies that move forward are going to succeed. people that recognize this and move forward as well will succeed.

i am looking forward to it all.