The Information (sub. required) is getting a lot of attention today with an exclusive report that Google is considering launching its own mobile phone services in cities where it already offers Google Fiber. The company has recently spoken with Verizon about deploying MVNO services on the carrier’s network, according to the piece, but is also considering building its own infrastructure based on its fiber network as well as Wi-Fi.
As Gigaom’s Kevin Fitchard notes, an MVNO model makes little sense for a massive company looking to differentiate its wireless services in any meaningful way, and a patchwork of fiber and Wi-Fi simply couldn’t offer the mobility most cellular users require. So, Fitchard suggests, Google could do both by offering a service that leverages fiber and Wi-Fi as often as possible, using a partner’s cellular network only when necessary. That strategy has become increasingly popular among smaller, disruption-minded service providers like FreedomPop, Republic Wireless and Scratch Wireless in the U.S., as well as Iliad’s thriving Free Mobile in France.
Such a move would certainly enable Google to provide a decent — or maybe even solid — wireless service at rock-bottom prices, and that could prove highly disruptive to traditional carriers if Google’s service were to spread to a few major markets. But in the U.S., at least, those carriers still dominate the retail handset channel, and they could easily opt to promote Apple’s product and Windows Phones handsets at the expense of Android devices. Google is clearly powerful enough to disrupt the mobile market in a very big way, but that disruption would likely come at a cost to the world’s biggest mobile operating system.