Google has issued a statement on the supposed "Google Phone":

We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe. This means they get to test out a new technology and help improve it.

Unfortunately, because dogfooding is a process exclusively for Google employees, we cannot share specific product details. We hope to share more after our dogfood diet.

And TechCrunch is back again with a roundup of the details: think Google branded HTC HD2-style slab form factor, 1Ghz Snapdragon CPU, unlocked, virtual keyboard with voice-to-text dictation/transcription, likely T-Mo and maybe AT&T.

Finally, Daring Fireball has the supposed user agent string:

Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.1; en-us; Nexus One Build/ERD56C) AppleWebKit/530.17 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/530.17

Nexus One perhaps being a reference to the android-like replicants in Blade Runner aka Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Nice.

Original commentary after the break...

Before I quote AndroidCentral's Phil Nickinson, who nailed the intro to the latest Google Phone rumors the way nailing's meant to be done, let me just ask (again) how giving employees HTC phones running Android 2.1 has anything to do with Google making their own hardware or learning Kung-Fu. Sigh. Take it away, Phil:

Looks like Twitter asploded overnight regarding the fabled Google phone. TechCrunch's Mike Arrington stopped crying JooJoo tears long enough to cull some of the Tweets, and here's what he found:

  • Google program manager Leslie Hawthorne kicked things off with: "Stuck in mass of traffic leaving work post last all hands of 2009. ZOMG we had fireworks and we all got the new Google phone. It's beautiful."
  • CNET's Jason Howell says he saw it, HTC did the hardware, it's unlocked and a buttload of Google employees got them this week.
  • And from Great White Snark: A friend from Google showed me the new Android 2.1 phone from HTC coming out in Jan. A sexy beast. Like an iPhone on beautifying steroids.

To be clear, Google hardware would mean a Google design handed off to a manufacturer to build, much like Apple and Jony Ive do with the iPhone and Foxconn. Rebranding a Passion (or variant device) just ain't what we consider building one's own hardware hereabouts.

That said, HTC makes great gear, and Android 2.1 (tasty pastry codename please?) will no doubt be very cool, so we'd like to see the latest Android phone, even if it isn't (yet) "THE Google Phone".

Competition will be a great motivator for Apple, maybe help them find our still missing iPhone 3.2 update, never mind the likely iPhone 4.0 Sneak Preview event in March, if they stick to their cycles...