Does Google have a mobile phone in the works?

Google could be working on designing its own mobile phone, according to a job posting on its Web site.

If companies like Apple or even Italian fashion designer Prada can design a mobile phone, why not Google?

Maybe it will.

Rumors have been circulating in blogosphere for some time about the U.S. search-engine giant studying the possibility of designing its own phone. A recent job opening posted on the Google Web site appears to confirm the company may now be tinkering with more than just an idea but with some real hardware in its engineering labs.

"Google is experimenting with a few wireless communications systems including some completely novel concepts," according to the Web-site recruitment text. "We are building a small team of top-notch Logic Designers and Analog Designers aimed at nothing less than making the entire world's information accessible from anywhere for free."

Additional qualifications include "extensive circuit modeling and analysis experience, excellent programming skills, experience with switch power supply design" and a ham radio license.

With the mobile phone soon to become the most popular device to access the Internet, it wouldn't be unthinkable for the world's largest search-engine company to want to grab a bigger piece of the action, according to some analysts.

"In the wake of Apple and some other big-name brands moving into the handset business, why not Google?" said Phil Taylor, senior analyst with Strategy Analytics.

Google and its arch rival Yahoo Inc. have been striking deals with both operators keen to offer search-engine services to their mobile phone customers and manufacturers interested in embedding search functions directly in their handsets, according to Taylor.

Late last year, rumors emerged about Google and French mobile phone operator Orange SA holding discussions about a possible partnership to design a co-branded, Google-enabled handset, he said.

"If Google were to enter the market, it would likely work with an operator as Apple has done with Cingular in the U.S.," Taylor said. "And like Apple, Google would focus on designing the product and work with a contract manufacturer to produce it."

But for Google to make a splash in the crowded mobile phone market, the company would need to design a product that sticks out among the rest -- as Apple is doing with its large-size, touch display, according to Taylor.

"It will be a challenge to come up with a really new design," he said.

Google could not be immediately reached for comment.

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John Blau

IDG News Service

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