The blogosphere has been abuzz in the past few weeks with rumors of THE Google Phone coming to the market early next year. The Google Mobile blog lent a lot credence to that rumor when it admitted:
We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe. This means they get to test out a new technology and help improve it.
Sounds like there may be some really innovative features/services on this device. Google wouldn't be announcing companywide dogfooding, while keeping the specific details of the device a secret, if this was merely an incremental improvement to existing Android phones. There could indeed be some truth to the "iPhone on steroids" quote.
The next few days are going to be exciting. You cannot distribute something to thousands of people across the world and expect everything to be in the dark for long. You also wouldn't get only a small batch of several thousand units of an expensive phone manufactured for just a company gift. So, we will see this phone on the market sooner rather than later.
Update on 12/13/2009:
That didn't take long! By now, it's confirmed that the phone Google gave out to its employees is the previously leaked HTC Passion, now being called Nexus One. Pictures on Engadget.
Hardware-wise, there doesn't seem to be any revolutionary features in this phone so far. We'll have to wait for details about the software and service to see if there's anything of interest there. I wouldn't be surprised if my theory from yesterday that this might be a major step forward in the Android stable of phones is proved wrong. This might be nothing more than a small incremental improvement on existing Android phones.