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Google said in talks with Verizon, Sprint

October 31, 2007|From Times Wire Services

Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. are in "advanced talks" with Google Inc. about carrying a cellphone powered by the Web company's software, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal's online edition cited unnamed sources in reporting the talks Tuesday.

The paper said Google was expected to announce within two weeks a set of software and services that cellphone makers could use. The software would probably allow third parties to add applications and take advantage of Google's advertising network.

Deals with Verizon Wireless and Sprint, the country's second- and third-largest carriers, would give Google a wide platform for its software.

Google already has "significant traction" with the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, T-Mobile USA, the Journal reported.

Representatives of Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Google said they had no comment on the report. Calls to Sprint after office hours were not returned.

Rumors about a "Google phone" have swirled for months, linked mainly to the company's stated intent to bid on a chunk of wireless spectrum coming up for auction in the next few months.

But developing the spectrum acquired in the auction would take years, while a deal with a major wireless carrier would allow Google to jump quickly into the cellphone market.

Google, which is used to dominating the Web search advertising business, may find negotiating its way into the cellphone market a tougher task.

Dealing with America's largest mobile companies, which keep control of devices and features, could force Google to make concessions that cut into future revenue from wireless.

"There are good, useful talks going on and they could result in a deal," one of several sources told Reuters news service.

But for now Google is offering service providers financial terms "somewhere between nothing and only a small proportion," according to one industry source who asked not to be named.

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