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Rumor has it that Google, Orange (the UK cellphone provider), and HTC (our favorite Windows Mobile cellphone maker) are in talks to make a new Google-branded phone. Thanks to Google's ever-expanding backpack of webapps—Gmail, Google Calendar, RSS Reader, Google maps just to name a few—people are more and more reliant on an all-Google solution to their web needs. Why not have a phone that can do ALL of these things?

If Google Maps Mobile is any indication, Google has a lot of work to do.

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Thanks to the fact that Google Maps Mobile uses Java—something it shares with the Windows Mobile version of GMail—the app was pretty slow, buggy, and semi-unusable. This is because of the limitations of J2ME on WM, not the limitations of Google's programmers (we hope).

If Google and HTC plan to make a phone that's Windows Mobile based, Google either needs to make native Windows Mobile versions of its Gmail, Calendar, Search, and Map apps or face the same problem of J2ME being horrifically bad. That's the main reason why Windows Live Search had the heads up in our comparison.

What part will mobile provider Orange play? Well, they'll probably subsidize the phone in order to get it to market. It's hard to get any kind of user-base if you don't have a major cell phone provider carrying your phone.

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But if you're interested in trying out what a Google-branded cellphone will look like, download the Google Maps and Gmail mobile onto your WM5 phones now.

The future for Orange could soon be Google in your pocket [Guardian via Giga OM]