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Lehman: Google Phone Due Feb. 2008

New York — Lehman Brothers joined the mass speculation on Google’s entry into the smartphone market, saying it believes Google will launch a mobile phone as early as February 2008.

In a report dated Oct. 9, the company said its research found the Google phone will be “a low-priced, simple form factor handset with a Google-designed operating system specially designed for Internet applications.”

Lehman added, “We do not believe it is unreasonable to think that a Google phone could capture a similar share of handsets shipped as Apple’s iPhone over a similar time period.” Apple expects to ship 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008.  

Lehman also expects that Google is building a Linux-based mobile operating system that will include Google applications such as search, maps, Gmail, Google Talk and calendar.

Taiwan-based HTC is likely the supplier of the Google phone, said Lehman. Lehman believes the phone could be marketed to consumers at a price lower than $100 or potentially might be free. It expects the Google phone will offer Wi-Fi capability and a large screen. It does not expect the device to operate on a 3G network.

Finally Lehman expects Google “to not only take a share of the $1.5 million global mobile advertising market, but also to accelerate its growth and expand the market overall.”

Separately, Google announced this week it purchased Jaiku, a maker of blogging software for mobile phones.