Monday, August 6, 2007
Google Phone Again?
Speculation about Google getting into the mobile phone space have been circulating all year. Most recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google has "invested hundreds of millions" into cellular phone development, and that the project goes far and beyond current incarnations of Google products on today's mobile handsets. So what is Google up to?
It isn't necessarily that complicated. Google might be simply be trying to show existing and would-be device manufacturers what can be done. Google doesn't necessarily have to be thinking about becoming a device manufacturer or "service" provider.
Google already has moved to put Google Search, Gmail and Maps onto phones. Google might be trying to illustrate, concretely, what a device can do, and look like, if unencumbered by all sorts of walled garden software. Call it a Google-optimized mobile Web approach, if you like. An approach that offers opportunity to exploit advertising revenues. If Google can get serious traction, it not only creates an important beach head in the mobile ad space, but also helps create the mobile version of the broadband Internet.
Ad-supported communications are a possibility, but not the only possibility. The "open" whole Web framework plays to Google's strengths. That might be the more important objective.
Expect to see Google pushing hard not only to get its software on more clients but to get users accustomed to behaving the same way with the mobile Web as they now do with the tethered Web. After all, the whole point of targeted advertising is to reach people where they are.
Three times as many mobiles are in use as landlines, and landlines don't offer much upside in the advertising space.
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