The Wall Street Journal reports that the long-rumored Google Phone is happening:

Google Inc. is close to unveiling its long-planned strategy to shake up the wireless market, people familiar with the matter say. The Web giant's ambitious goal: to make applications and services as accessible on cellphones as they are on the Internet.

Within the next two weeks, Google is expected to announce its plans to bring Google-powered phones to market by the middle of next year, people familiar with the situation say. In recent months Google has approached several U.S. and foreign handset manufacturers about the idea of building phones tailored to Google software, with Taiwan's HTC Corp. and South Korea's LG Electronics Inc. mentioned in the industry as potential contenders. Google is also seeking partnerships with wireless operators. In the U.S., it has the most traction with Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile USA, while in Europe it is pursuing relationships with France Télécom's Orange SA and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.'s 3 U.K., people familiar with the matter say. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Google-powered phones are expected to wrap together several Google applications -- among them, its search engine, Google Maps, YouTube and Gmail email -- that have already made their way onto some mobile devices. The most radical element of the plan, though, is Google's push to make the phone's software "open" right down to the operating system, the layer that controls applications and interacts with the hardware. That means independent software developers would get access to the tools they need to build additional phone features.

Put simply, it seems like the exact opposite of the iPhone, though of course Apple is racing to change that. I wonder whether the 'gPhone" influenced that decision at all?