By Edward Robinson and Ari Levy

March 27, Bloomberg

On a chilly February morning, Andy Rubin hustles past equation-filled whiteboards in a two-story building on Google Inc.'s Silicon Valley campus.

Rubin, a computer scientist who builds robots for fun, has spent three years in this top-secret sanctum of the Googleplex. He's putting the final touches on one of the most ambitious and potentially humbling projects the Internet juggernaut has ever undertaken: an operating system for cellular phones that's designed to give Google the same grip on the mobile Web that it commands in online searches on personal computers.

``We've gotten to the point where anyone can build a cell phone,'' says Rubin, 44, dressed in blue jeans and a red crewneck T-shirt as he explains why Google is piling into wireless, the Internet's new frontier. ``What's important now is software, having the next cool application.''

After luring an audience that tops 588 million people who search in more than 200 languages and winning 72 percent of the $22.5 billion in annual advertising linked to Web queries, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are hunting beyond the PC for growth. Fewer googlers are clicking on the text ads that run alongside Google's search results, threatening the area that generated most of the company's $16.6 billion in 2007 sales.

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photo: Andy Rubin, director of mobile platforms for Google Inc., poses for a photograph at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California on Feb. 26, 2008. Rubin is creating Google-powered cell phones. Photographer: Ian White/Bloomberg Markets via Bloomberg News