Google has sent out invitations to members of the press for a Google Android event at Google's Mountain View, California campus on January 5th.

The event falls just prior to this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which beings on January 7th. What exactly Google will announce at its event is already the subject of much discussion. The leading contender is a Google Android phone under the Google brand, dubbed the Nexus One.

A picture of the prototype handset emerged earlier this month after it was apparently given out to Google employees. The picture of the touchscreen smartphone was posted online by Twitter user Cory O'Brien.

The question remains, however, exactly how the Nexus One will be different from its predecessors, like the T-Mobile G1 and Motorola Droid--especially since reports and FCC filings seem to say that phone manufacturer HTC will be actually building the device.

Rumours claim it will be an unlocked phone sold directly to consumers, with the support of T-Mobile in the US. Such a move could conceivably open up the Nexus One to users not looking for a two-year contract, potentially even providing an Google Android-flavored answer to the iPod touch.

With additional reporting from Dan Moren,