Is Google planning to release its own smartphone?

Rumours suggest the tech giant is working on its own hardware offering for Android

Android figurine

Google is planning to release its own handset, reports have suggested, putting it in direct competition with Apple's iPhone in the hardware market.

The firm is in talks with various mobile operators about the potential Google-branded handset, reports The Telegraph, with sources indicating the Google wants to move beyond software into design and manufacturing for its own mobile offering.

Ben Wood, an analyst at CCS Insight, said: "They are concerned that Android is fragmenting, that it needs to become a more controlled platform. I think they'll seek to control it more, more like Apple."

Google's Android operating system currently resides on hardware from Samsung, as well as LG and Huawei under the Google Nexus brand. This gives Android the majority of the market, but Apple remains dominant among high-end offerings. It also means that the rollouts of Android versions can be very stilted, with some users waiting months longer than others to receive their update.

The move makes sense in light of Google's hiring of Rick Osterloh to head a new hardware division. The firm will, however, continue to support Nexus smartphones despite its decision to expand in the area.

Google was hit with formal Android antitrust charges by the European Commission earlier in the year, which argued that the company and its mobile operating system has reduced competition in the market, incentivising handset manufacturers to bundle its suites of apps at the expense of others.

Sources say that the new phone will be released before the end of 2016.

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