The WSJ follows up their original story, adding things we heard, like that Google might partner with a carrier eventually and that they talked to Verizon and T-Mobile about it. The price is still elusive.
Which is what matters at this point, really. The WSJ continues to insist it'll be sold "directly to consumers" (emphasis mine) and Google will "market" it, so let's assume it isn't just a dev or template phone, but a genuine consumer play. Even with Google's enormous weight, a $600—or even $400—unlocked phone does face some harsh realities, even if it does send a strong kind message as The Google Phone. If Google subsidizes it themselves, though, making it actually affordable in a "we just want everybody to use the internet (and therefore, Google)" kind of play, it'd be as huge as everybody panting about it says it would be. If not, well, you know.
Sprint saying they'd support this business model is interesting, BTW—my guess at this point, is that Verizon said no because it likes being deeply involved in, and tied to, the phones on its network. In Verizon's world, it's all about the network, not the phones, so it's easy to see where being reduced to a mere contract service wouldn't sit well with its sense of self.
Still curious, though, are these two bits, that "Google focused more on designing a phone in the past year, one person familiar with its efforts said, as the company battled to get some partners to accept its software" and that "Google designed virtually the entire software experience behind the phone, from the applications that run on it to the look and feel of each screen, they added." 'Cause, uh, haven't they designed the experience and applications on every stock Android phone? And it's weirder still, cause Engadget's close-up photos show 2.1, which, on the face of it, looks a whole lot like 2.0, just with a few new interface elements (more desktops displayed using a webOS card-like interface above, and 3D flourishes). The only thing "more Google-y" is that it comes with Goggles by default. So, um, "huh," I say to the WSJ.
We keep hearing first quarter of next year is when Google's loosing this thing, so even if Google's brilliant plan—a sekrit phone in the hands of a thousand people—holds tight, we'll know soon enough what's really going on here. [WSJ, Engadget]