Leap Wireless, the company that manages the prepaid brand Cricket, has said that they plan on introducing a feature phone (read: dumb phone) based on Android. Similar to how Amazon took the Google Android source code, stripped out everything they didn’t need, and then built a new user interface on top of it for the Kindle Fire, Leap plans on doing the exact same thing. Sergio Garcia, Leap’s Senior Director of Business and Product Management, told FierceWireless in an interview that this upcoming feature phone will not have any Google services preinstalled, nor have access to the Android Market. When asked who is going to make this device, what are the specs are, how much it’s going to cost, and when it’s going to come out, Segio simply refused to answer. He did say that since this unannounced device will be considered a feature phone, users will be billed at a lower rate compared to smartphone users. It’s a savings of $10 per month, which in this economy is important to quite a few people.
The bigger question here is what will Google think of all this? They made Android so that they could shove their services in the faces of as many people as possible. Just yesterday they announced that there are over 190 million Android devices on the market. (Note that Apple’s shipped 250 million iOS devices, but the fruity company had a 16 month head start.) That’s a lot of people using Gmail, Google Maps, Google Chat, etc., so if Cricket starts selling a device that doesn’t have these apps bundled, will handset vendors start taking notice and develop their own flavor of Android?
One can argue that because Microsoft is collecting patent fees from all the hotshot Android device makers, they’re incentivized to either move to Windows Phone or ask Google for a subsidy for every Android phone they sell, otherwise they’ll just take Android and transform it into something that’s clearly not stock Android. As for apps, they’ll just call up Bezos.
[Image Credit: Flickr]