Google, the telco, anyone?

Google is in the habit of stepping into a market and rewriting the rulebook, and its most recent move — giving at least a vague shape to the long-rumoured Goggle phone — is no exception.

It wasn’t a Google-branded phone but an application delivery platform, an alliance of mobi and chip manufacturers, a promise of innovative mobile applications free on your smart phone in an ad-supported model.

There are a number of obstacles to Google’s domination of the mobile phone world, so we’re not likely to see a sea change anytime soon.

First up is the reluctance of most consumer users — and given that it’s an ad-supported model, it’s consumer-oriented by its very nature — to actually use the “smart” features of their smart phones. Aside from e-mail, especially of the BlckBerry push variety, there aren’t many compelling reasons to use the Internet features of a smart phone, especially given that the speed and on-screen rendering of Web pages is, at this point, painful.

Then there’s the wireless carriers themselves, who are accustomed to drawing significant incremental revenue from delivering just the sort of applications the Android platform will deliver for free — assuming, of course, that subscribers do use those applications. Reaching into a carrier’s pocket is a good way to lose a hand, as they say.

Maybe most significantly, this is not going to play well on the enterprise front. While an open source platform that’s easy to develop on has obvious advantages for the corporate user, the intrusiveness of a geo-targeted advertising regimen will be beyond the pale for most enterprises. Aside from the ads themselves, there’s simply too much data being collected and used to target those ads. CIOs won’t tolerate it.

Given that, there’s obviously more to the plan than a platform for delivering ad-supported apps, and it likely involves Google’s huge inventory of dark fibre and the large block of IPv6 addresses it has apparently registered. Google the telco, anybody?

Surely it’s not too long a stretch to an ad-supported IP-based wireless network from here.

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Dave Webb
Dave Webb
Dave Webb is a freelance editor and writer. A veteran journalist of more than 20 years' experience (15 of them in technology), he has held senior editorial positions with a number of technology publications. He was honoured with an Andersen Consulting Award for Excellence in Business Journalism in 2000, and several Canadian Online Publishing Awards as part of the ComputerWorld Canada team.

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