The mobile Internet will be responsible for getting more of the world online, according to Internet co-founder Vint Cerf, who now works for Google, speaking at a conference in Madrid today. In an earlier post, Om made a similar point, saying that instead of a one-laptop-per-child initiative, we should be thinking along the lines of one smartphone per child. But Google knows access to the web will be about more than mobile phones.
Google, which employs Cerf as vice president and “chief Internet evangelist,” has a stake in mobile web access becoming ubiquitous, not only because more web access equals more people searching on Google and clicking on ads, but because Google has more flexibility in the ways it can control and monetize the mobile web experience as compared to the wired broadband experience. To that end, it has especially high hopes for its Android mobile operating system, which is being used on smartphones, netbooks and eventually on other devices.
Android gets Google deeper into a device’s software layer than search does, giving the web company more influence among developers, and the ability to tie its products together. It’s also pushing wireless access through unlicensed bands such as whites spaces, and by investments in satellite companies. This takes carriers out of the equation (neutering potential attempts to cut into Google’s ad-supported revenue streams) and gives the search giant a stake in a direct pipe to web users.
The mobile web will be important to getting the rest of the world online, not only through smartphones, but through anything with a radio and display. That means everything from television to e-readers, which is why forward-looking software companies are investing in operating systems or software platforms that can go anywhere. As the web expands beyond boxes moored to desks, and infiltrates the daily lives of more of the population, Google wants to control as much of that experience as possible.