Will Google Kill the Golden Mobile Goose?

Don Reisinger of C.Net thinks aloud about the question whether Google could kill the cell phone industry by acquiring the 700 MHz wireless spectrum in the United States. Interesting stuff, and definitely worth a consideration.

Google on a mobile phone
Archive Photo © 2006 Mark Zanzig/zettpress

I know that Google have hired some amazing folks in the mobile space over the past two years, quite a crowd actually. And not just tech folks, no, it’s strategists and business development guys as well. Some of them came directly from mobile network operators, others from Microsoft. Of course, they all came for the cool work environment at Google (some might have liked the money as well).

So, I think that Google does have a plan for the wireless spectrum they are looking to acquire. With their truckloads of cash they can certainly afford to build a network. And if they build it, the people will come. However, will Google be able to maintain a free mobile network? And will people accept a phone service that is financed by advertising? After all, most of us are still either using a flat fee (so I do not care what a call costs) or Skype (which has no advertising). Think about it: previous tries to do introduce pre-call or in-call advertising never really lifted off.

Okay, with all that personal information that Google has gathered through your web searches, they might be able to figure out that you are looking at trips to a certain country, say, to Elbonia. But how often would you endure this…

Your call is sponsored by Elbonian Airways, the airline with the most attractive flights to Elbonia. If you want to be connected to an Elbonian Airways representative to book a flight, press 1 now. Otherwise, please hold the line while we are connecting you to your call…

…prior to your call or – Heaven Help! – during a call? Not too often. Phone calls are not that expensive. So they will catch only the low-value market. Also, traditional mobile phone networks might come up with similar schemes (though they might not be able to automatically detect that you are interested in trips to Elbonia). But they have everything in place, they know how it works, and it does work indeed. Today.

It will not be easy to monetize the wireless space, so it will be interesting to watch what Google is up to.

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