Google X phone, tablet, spur speculation

With reports of a smartphone and tablet launching this spring, analysts praise Google's competitive drive

With speculation swirling that Google is preparing to come out with what's been called the Google X phone and a Google X tablet this spring, analysts say the company is pushing the hardware envelope.

For the past month or so, there have been reports and online talk about Google working on a new phone and tablet, both being dubbed Google X products from the recently acquired Motorola Mobility.

That talk heated up Tuesday after Google's quarterly earnings call . During the call with the press and analysts, Google noted that when it acquired Motorola, the mobile device maker had a 12 to 18-month product pipeline that they're "still working through." That schedule would likely have new products arriving in the spring.

Google could not be reached for comment at deadline.

If a Google X phone and tablet are in the works, and executives are looking at a spring launch, it's likely the devices would make their debut at the company's annual developer conference, Google I/O, slated for May 15-17 in San Francisco.

"This would be an ideal time to introduce X," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "This will be a game changer for Google, but that doesn't mean it will be a positive one. There is a lot of risk here and that's why most vendors don't do it. However, this is one of the ways to advance and some of the greatest gains come from the big risks."

This wouldn't be the first hardware that Google has produced that is being met with a lot of anticipation.

For instance, while the products' features are as unconfirmed as their sheer existence, there is a lot of speculation that the devices would have gesture recognition capabilities, along with a durable and bendable screen.

"It's a big secret so far," said Jeff Kagan, an independent industry analyst. "I'm not going to say that this is going to be another homerun for Google, but it could be. They've had their failures, like the Nexus phone. But the marketplace is different now. It may welcome another phone ... If it's good, it could succeed."

What's important here, according to Kagan, is that Google continues to innovate and act like an entrepreneur.

"Google is taking its first steps into hardware and into a lot of businesses," he added. "They're in Kansas City with their high-speed Internet. They're into self-driving cars. You never know what Google is going to look like. They throw a lot of stuff into the marketplace. What doesn't work they pull. What works, they go with."

Kagan said it's key for Google to continue searching for the next big thing.

Enderle agreed, noting that it's good for Google and it's good for the industry to have a major company pushing innovation.

"Generally, if you want to push technology, you have to do it yourself," he said. "Someone has to blaze the trail. It could drive technology more quickly or the result could be relatively unreliable and hurt the firm's brand. The nature of the cutting edge is that the stuff is both more exciting and more raw."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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