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Google plays down phone rumors

Google on Wednesday removed itself from the smartphone race, claiming that hardware wasn't its main concern.

Two executives from the world's largest search firm were keen to dampen expectations that it was creating its own device, in two separate instances clinging tightly to its mobile and Web initiatives.

"At this point in time, we are very focused on the software, not the phone," said Richard Kimber, who directs Google's southeast Asian sales and operations. Internet pioneer and Google evangelist Vint Cerf mirrored the statement earlier in March when he said that the company was more interested in building others' platforms.

Kimber elaborated by noting that the brunt of the company's efforts were dedicated towards integrating its search tools into existing mobile phones, rather than creating its own device.

The claim is bolstered by much of Google's efforts to date. The firm has recently signed deals with Samsung and other handset creators that have sought to pre-install mapping and Web search engines on their phones. Apple has been one of Google's highest-profile customers and secured the latter's help for both the iPhone's Safari web browser and a dedicated Google Maps utility.

Indeed, the statements primarily squelch rumors that would have most affected the iPhone if proven true. A commonly circulated image purportedly showed a device nicknamed the Switch that would have embraced the same touchscreen-only design philosophy as the Apple phone, drawing inevitable comparisons between the two communicators.

Purported Google Cell Phone Image

Purported photo of "Switch."

Such a competition would have also been uncharacteristic of Google, which has repeatedly shot down reports that it would produce hardware that challenges its own clients. Its only physical product to date is a blade server targeted at businesses that want hardware-based searching for their internal networks.

Vint Cerf was well aware of this historical foundation when he spoke to reporters in early March.

"Becoming an equipment manufacturer is pretty far from our business model," he said.