Google in handset talks with operators

Google refused to deny reports its long-rumored branded mobile device is nearing production--instead, the search giant released a statement confirming it is presently working with operators, content providers and handset makers "to bring its services to users everywhere." According to The Wall Street Journal, Google is wooing operators to carry the so-called "gPhone," a device customized with its search engine, email and a new mobile web browser, in an effort to secure its chunk of the mobile advertising market.

The WSJ sources say Google has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the handset project, developing prototype devices and negotiating with the likes of T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. The company's hope is that multiple manufacturers will produce the devices per its specifications, with consumer availability spread across several carriers. The WSJ adds the Google phone would not hit retail until next year at the earliest.

At the D: All Things Digital conference in May, Google CEO Eric Schmidt hinted broadly at the company's mobile aspirations, saying "What's interesting about the ads in the mobile phone is that they are twice as profitable or more than the non-mobile phone ads because they're more personal." In a recent interview, Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said the carrier has opted against integrating Google's web search engine because of Google's ad revenue demands: "What this really boils down to is a battle for the mobile ad dollar," McAdam said. "They want a disproportionate share of the revenue."

For more on Google's plans:
-read this Wall Street Journal article