If they do indeed launch a phone (and that is still up in the air), it appears that it will be VOIP. If so, adoption may be slow as people might still lean in the proven basic cell network before becoming totally dependent on a data network. Might be ok around the larger cities, but out in the hinterlands, that my prove to be less reliable. Could be interesting though, however I don't see where this is particular advantage to Google over the cell providers, they can always modify their plans to meet Googles pricing. Plus, just who's data network will Google use?..... Verizon, Sprint, AT&T? Or is everyone supposed to look for hot spots. BTW, don't bemoan the "death" of the Droid that you read in some of the Google articles, in a short time we will all be licking our lips while we look at the latest and greatest....that will never end, no matter who enters the field. Most of our Driods will wind up as backup phones in a draw in less than two years http://www.droidforums.net/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif...Just sayin'
Don't you mean drawer? lol
This is why they add stupid crap like "aint" to the dictionary...
Back on topic:
There will always be something new... Google won't be "biting the hand that feeds them" business is business. This is what companies do, test the waters; see what you are capable of doing/selling and profiting from. I don't see why this would be an issue at all for them to release their own phone that Verizon or another network could pick up. Who cares? There are other droid devices on other networks. What's the big deal. IMO, so what. Also this ish is speculation, no actual proof, as i always say "Pics or it didn't happen!"
Motorola recently bought Gizmo5. Gizmo5 provides VoIP for cell phones (basically). Google has been slowing (quietly) looking to build a wireless network across the US (remember, they tried very hard to buy that bandwidth from the FCC for cell use but couldn't buy it). Put these two together and I think it's easy to see what they'd like to be able to do--offer VoIP phone services over their own network. My guess is, like most things Google, if they were to pull it off, the service would be ad-driven (i.e. free). I think we're a ways from that but I don't think it's out of the question. There just isn't nearly enough wireless coverage at the moment.
I think a VOIP device, that people could use for the internet, email and texting, multi user gaming, that allowed them to make the odd call here and there and even better making long distance calls over seas when traveling with WIFI access, would be a great niche device. Great for the person that does not want a voice plan and truly doesn't make many calls.
This also opens up the world to devices that are not cell phones but do have internet connectivity, as in portable game consoles. With built in "Google Phone" you can make calls as well as battle others when you have a wifi connection. So if Google is thinking in this way, they don't have to JUST make a phone, but can put their "phone" pretty much into anything that you'd expect or want to have WIFI built in.
Bundle the Google Phone with Google Voice and pop all that into a portable WII/DS/PSP/Netbook, cram an inter ear headset ear bud, inside your ear and your off to the races. (well as long as there is WIFI at the races!):icon_ banana: