Google's plunge into the telecom industry accelerated this week with its Monday proposal
asking the FCC to let it manage a new white space database and the Tuesday release of the Nexus One smartphone. (Catch up on Wire coverage of the Nexus phone here
.) Both are part of a what is widely believed to be a broad telecom strategy for the Mountain View company, but what exactly is Google doing and how might it change telecoms?
- Beginning of a Grand Strategy Before petitioning to become its administrator, Google long championed the creation of the FCC white space database, which will track free TV channels, enabling companies to use them. So why does it matter? The Ottawa Citizen's Vito Pilieci says Google wants the database up and running so it can become an irresistible carrier: "The company wants its products to be available to you always. You need e-mail? No problem, here's G-mail. Need to make a phone call? No problem, here is Google Voice. ... Then there is Google Docs, Calendar, Wave, Picasa, Youtube, etc." As far as Pilieci's concerned what Google is doing in the consumer electronics market has only been rivaled once: by what Microsoft's Windows OS did to the PC market.
- Revolution Is Coming, but Slowly Wired's Ryan Singel sees a lot of as-yet untapped potential to shake up the mobile phone industry. But he laments that the company didn't use the Nexus One as a way to welcome the uninitiated or turn the standard business model on its head: "How about a smartphone starter plan, deeply subsidized by ads, that offered a cheap data plan to entice the 'I don't need a smartphone' crowd into joining the revolution? Even better, would have been an order form where you could buy the Google phone and then choose from three or more carriers who are competing to provide you with a data and voice plan -- just as you do when you buy a laptop." While the company hasn't revolutionized phones yet or streamlined the buying process, there's still time, he writes.
- Hands Tied by Business Partners While there is plenty of potential for the new phone to help Google's broader telecom push, the company may have to tread lightly, write Reuters reporters Alexei Oreskovic and Sinead Carew. "For all Google's might on the Internet, analysts don't see it upending the wireless business model in the near term, saying the company must tread carefully so as not to upset the business partners of its Android mobile operating software." And besides, the company doesn't seem to be in any sort of rush, Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told Wall Street Journal reporters Jessica E. Vascellaro and Niraj Sheth: "Unless [Google] gives it a big push with marketing dollars, which they are not, consumers aren't going to know the phone exists," he said.
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