Monday, November 12, 2012

A New Google Phone in China

Google fans, are you seeking a way to better show your passion for Google? If so, then I may have seen the phone for you at a shop in Changsha, Hunan province.

Mobile phone with the Google logo on its back in Changsha, China

Of course, the Google phone seen above runs Android--in this case OS version 2.3.7.

Android-style homescreen on the Google phone

If you are not sold on the Android experience, though, when turning on the phone you can chose to have it simulate an iPhone-like interface instead (warning: some may now question whether you are a true Google fan).

iPhone style homescreen on the Google phone

The back of the phone's box provides more details about it, including the wide range of colors available (it also lists a slightly different OS version than what the phone itself reported).

back of Google phone box showing phone specs

The woman who showed me the phone was quick to say it was not made by Google. Curiously, the box did not indicate the real brand but did include the Google name in the upper-right corner.

front of Google phone box

However, booting up the phone identified the brand as Awang (A王).

Has Awang received approval from Google to use its name on the phone? I have not asked Google, but I see signs Awang has not followed some of Google's published trademark guidelines. So Google fans, maybe you might want to buy a Google wooden cricket set instead.

I don't plan to conduct an in-depth review of the phone, so just two more quick points:
  • Even if Google did not grant permission for their name to be used on this phone, they can find some solace in the fact a Chinese company presumably believed that using the Google name could benefit their sales in China.
  • I doubt the Google phone will be making an appearance at the "Android Store" I saw in Zhuhai, especially since all the phones being sold there were made by well-known brands. I'd say Awang has a long ways to go before reaching that stage.
More later about the other mobile phones I have seen for sale in Changsha and how they compare to what I have seen elsewhere in China (see here and here for earlier examples of mobile phones "borrowing" Apple's trademarks). And I will also soon share some thoughts about recent news relating to a more pressing concern for Google. Although Google might approve of the Chinese government blocking sales of this Awang phone, overall Google would be thrilled to see less, not more, blocking in China.

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