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Google’s Mobile Plans: Bigger Than We Thought?

WSJ does a long story on Google’s mobile plans..what it does it collects all of Google’s mobile moves (that we have covered over the last two years), and makes it into one big plan to dominate the world…I have my doubts on that, though. Anyway, from the story, “Google has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the cellphone project…It has developed prototype handsets, made overtures to operators such as T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, and talked over technical specifications with phone manufacturers. It hopes multiple manufacturers will make devices based on its specs and multiple carriers will offer them.” Duh…yes, for sure. And the tension between Google and operators, and them being cagey about using Google’s search: yep, we and others covered it in the past too.

What it does say is the long-rumored Google phones are still in the planning stages, and wouldn’t be available to consumers until next year at the earliest. Also, it is drafting specifications for phones that can display all of Google’s mobile applications at their best, and it is developing new software to run on them. The company is conducting much of the development work at a facility in Boston, and is working on a sophisticated new browser for cellphones. Also, Google doesn’t plan to charge a licensing fee to hardware makers or operators..the company has suggested the phones could carry the Google brand alongside the brand of the operator, or they could be distributed without the Google name. The one is has had closest talks with is T-Mobile USA, the story says.

3 Responses to “Google’s Mobile Plans: Bigger Than We Thought?”

  1. Here comes Google…
    The market has yet to catch it’s breathe on the Iphone, as rumors of the Google phone continue to circulate. Google, like Apple, is a world class capable company that innovates at a dizzying pace.

    Its resources seem almost limitless as it sets it sights on a bigger slice of the mobile market. Will it just be a handset?, A bid on spectrum, an outright purchase of a wireless carrier? If I were sitting at Google I would proceed with great caution.

    Google should dust off all the press of the failed ESPN MVNO and learn from it. ESPN has wonderful content, a killer brand and is a marketing powerhouse. Their mobile content was on every carrier, with application innovation in sports being pushed and pushed. With these assets as a base, ESPN took the leap of faith to launch an MVNO and become a retail wireless carrier.

    The skill set to become a successful carrier include: Retail distribution, mobile handset sourcing, customer service, billing, wireless network knowledge, wireless network operations (even if you have an MVNO),and mobile feature innovation across all mobile features (voice, IVR, LBS, games, music, social networking, messaging, etc.) Look at the above list and determine which competencies ESPN had before they decided to place a big bet on wireless?

    Great content is not enough. ESPN had an overly expensive phone, with limited distribution, a post pay model, few features other than sports, no family plans, etc.

    Virgin Mobile has been successful because they actually ran other wireless MVNO services (in the U.K) before they launched in the U.S. They had the necessary corporate skill set and have been successful.

    This now gets me back to Google.

    On the surface it has some direct parallels to ESPN. Google’s existing wireless services are very popular and are on most every carrier. They are best in class at innovating web based products and then applying those features and functionalities to mobile. They have just launched a version of their incredible cash engine, adwords, for mobile applications.

    As was the case for ESPN, they are firing on all mobile cylinders. By continuing on their present course, they will be a significant and dominate player in mobile content, search, applications and advertising for the foreseeable future.

    Is the talk and effort on spectrum auctions and Google handsets a negotiating tactic for better terms from existing carriers, or is it the far reaching aspirations of the web’s most dominate player? Is it a tactic, a strategy or corporate hubris?

    Google clearly has the financial capability to acquire all the wireless network talent and competency it needs to compliment its web prowess, should it choose.

    The moves that Google makes, and succeeds or fails at, will have industry forming impact for years to come.

    This is a very interesting time for all of us!

  2. Interestingly enough, while Vodafone has a Google search box embedded on their new phones, Verizon (Vodafone has a large stake on it) has been reluctant to allow off-deck content, search or browsers.

    I wonder if those guys ever talk to each other?

    U.S. mobile carriers will not be a pipe and will continue to be very protective about the use of their network because they have no "Digital Millenium Copyright Act" or whatsoever that allows them to freely distribute information regardless of the content. Honestly, they need some serious lobby to get a good umbrella legislation in the favor. Perhaps if they did not have to deal with all the service calls and complaints, they would be more open.

  3. Mobile.Search.Guy

    I don't know how relevant white label mobile service providers can remain while the carriers remain ignorant of the steam roller approaching them.

    Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc. All understand the value of traffic, eyeballs, etc. The carriers continue to stress the desire not to be a dumb pipe, yet seem unwilling to spend time or resources focused on new media and its potentially huge impact on their models.