The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is making a push to court wireless carriers in an effort to accelerate mobile ad distribution and revenue growth. The article also contends that Google is actively working a mobile handset, the so-called “Google Phone” or “GPhone,” and possibly envisions itself an operator one day of an ad-supported free mobile service.
According to the WSJ:
[Google] is drafting specifications for phones that can display all of Google’s mobile applications at their best, and it is developing new software to run on them. The company is conducting much of the development work at a facility in Boston, and is working on a sophisticated new Web browser for cellphones, people familiar with the plans say.
The prize for Google: the potential to broker ads on the mobile phones, complementing the huge ad business it has built online. Google even envisions a phone service one day that is free of monthly subscription charges and supported entirely through ad revenue, people familiar with the matter say…
Google is hoping that multiple operators will offer its phone. And Google is ready to relinquish some control over design, allowing manufacturers to create devices based on a common set of specifications. Google has approached several wireless operators in the U.S. and Europe in recent months, including AT&T, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, people familiar with the situation say. T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, appears to be the furthest along in considering it, these people say. Andy Rubin, who helped design T-Mobile’s popular Sidekick phone, now works at Google and is involved in its handset project.
It’s very clear that Google sees mobile as a huge opportunity and would like to accelerate consumer adoption of mobile data and the mobile Internet with products that are more user friendly. If the Journal article is correct about the Google Phone (or the eventual wireless service), then the company is pursuing a parallel strategy of trying to disseminate its software through OEM and carrier relationships as it pursues the development of its own, proprietary device.
Google has developed specialized mobile software for smartphones and the iPhone to optimize the user experience, but it has never acknowledged that it is actually developing a handset.
Here are related posts on Google’s bid for an open wireless spectrum and Danny’s chronology of GPhone speculation and rumor. There’s also more coverage of Google’s mobile efforts and ambitions in the Google Mobile archive.