Google (GOOG) - Get Report won't confirm that it's making a branded mobile handset widely known as the Gphone. But the Net giant says it will provide a mobile-phone software kit to developers next week in the hopes of getting its applications on future wireless devices.

During a press conference announcing its Android operating system, Google executives skirted the question of whether the big Net search shop would be trying its hand at mobile phones.

Scott Moritz Tells It Like It Is on the Gphone

var config = new Array(); config<BRACKET>"videoId"</BRACKET> = 1291940379; config<BRACKET>"playerTag"</BRACKET> = "TSCM Embedded Video Player"; config<BRACKET>"autoStart"</BRACKET> = false; config<BRACKET>"preloadBackColor"</BRACKET> = "#FFFFFF"; config<BRACKET>"useOverlayMenu"</BRACKET> = "false"; config<BRACKET>"width"</BRACKET> = 265; config<BRACKET>"height"</BRACKET> = 255; config<BRACKET>"playerId"</BRACKET> = 1243645856; createExperience(config, 8);

"If you were to build a Gphone, this is the platform you would build it out of," said Google's mobile unit chief Andy Rubin on the call.

The comment seemed to open the door to a Gphone down the road if outside developers and phone companies don't pave the way to Android's success.

Some 33 members of the Open Handset Alliance are expected to develop a open standard software to be available on phones starting in the middle of next year. The aim is to make a free or low-cost core software system for phones that allows for features such as a more desktop-like Internet browsing capability.

Google chief Eric Schmidt, along with

Motorola's

(MOT)

Ed Zander,

Qualcomm's

(QCOM) - Get Report

head Paul Jacobs and

Deutsche Telekom's

(DT) - Get Report

René Obermann, joined on the call to make the announcement.

The move attempts to offer an alternative to the phone software market dominated by No. 1 handset maker

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

as well as the large operators such as

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

and

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

.

The Android effort faces a steep challenge trying to unseat existing partnerships between phonemakers, telcos and the current crop of operating system makers. Motorola chief Zander said Android would be a complementary system but added that his company would continue its operating system commitments with its carrier customers.

As Web access has gained popularity with cell-phone users, there has been growing frustration among critics who see phone companies controlling what applications can be used on phones.

Qualcomm chief Jacobs said it was "time to grow the pie, instead of focusing on how to cut that pie up."

The primary objective of the Android movement seems to be getting better browsers on cell-phones so people can use Google search and other programs like they do on computers. This would allow Google to expand its advertising dominance to the rapidly growing wireless market.

Google shares rose $8.44 to $719.69 in midafternoon trading Monday.