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Marcy Simon, Valleywag has learned, doesn't just have a coveted desk and a phone line in Google's cramped New York offices. She also has a seemingly hot assignment: PR for the yet-to-be-launched Googlephone. All this, simply for serving as married Google CEO Eric Schmidt's piece on the side? Yes, that's right: Schmidt's girlfriend, despite having no experience in wireless or telecom, is handling the launch of one of Google's most-whispered-about initiatives. Why the Duchess of West Chelsea, as Valleywag has dubbed Simon, is handling this, and not say, David Krane, Google's telecom-savvy director of corporate communications, is telling about both Schmidt's character and the fate of the phone project.

I've written before that Google will not come out with its own phone model, as Apple has done. And indeed, the need for any Googlephone escapes me; Google should be building services that work on any phone, no matter who makes it or what OS it runs. At best, the Googlephone project, I believe, is a big stick Google will use to threaten phonemakers and wireless carriers into carrying its search engine and applications.

Which, of course, makes hiring a fancy New York PR person like Simon thoroughly pointless. If there's no Googlephone for Simon to launch, why waste office space on her? Because it's a plausible job that Schmidt can assign to his girlfriend with a minimum of fuss. Simon, ignorant of the wireless industry, won't know it's a waste of time; Schmidt may actually have duped her into thinking it's a plum job, almost as sparkly a bauble as the canary-yellow diamond ring Schmidt also gave her. Meanwhile, Schmidt can appease his internal critics by pointing out that he's only given Simon a space-filling job that no savvy staff member would ever want.