Yahoo Discontinues “Go”, A GPhone Finally Cometh?

Yahoo has decided to discontinue its “Go” mobile app. Go was originally part of a larger “three screen” strategy that included TV and mobile delivery of Yahoo content. The Go app was intended as a way to have a richer, self-contained experience on mobile devices. But that strategy has given way to a “Yahoo for mobile” mobile portal approach that is consistent across most high-end mobile devices — and doesn’t require an app download. Of course Yahoo also still has mobile apps for selected smartphones, including the iPhone.

In fact the “Go” experience was never really that impressive and the newer mobile web experience is very strong:

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Meanwhile at Google . . . TechCrunch is emphatically repeating the GPhone rumor that first surfaced via TheStreet in late October. TC believes that the phone is real and that the handset maker is LG or Samsung:

There won’t be any negotiation or compromise over the phone’s design of features – Google is dictating every last piece of it. No splintering of the Android OS that makes some applications unusable. Like the iPhone for Apple, this phone will be Google’s pure vision of what a phone should be.

So if true this will be Google’s version of the iPhone — what we always imagined the company was building before the launch of Android — but it will reportedly be “unlocked” and sold directly to the public, not through any carrier. However Google’s Android founder Andy Rubin has denied there will be a GPhone:

“We’re not making hardware,” Rubin told CNET. “We’re enabling other people to build hardware.”

Indeed, if Google were to build such a phone it would to some degree be competing with its hardware and carrier partners. There’s also the question of how much such a device would cost. In the US at least smartphones over about $200 are effectively not going to sell. Think about what happened when the iPhone’s price came dramatically down, courtesy of the AT&T subsidy, sales took off.

An unsubsidized GPhone would certainly cost more than $200 — and potentially much more. If you’re not eligible for the Sprint subsidy, for example, the Android HTC Hero in the US will cost you about $400. (I know this because I’m considering buying one.) But at the high end, such a phone could cost up to $600 or more. At $571 in the US (without a carrier subsidy) the Nokia “flagship” N97 smartphone has been a massive failure.

Google has flirted with the concept of an advertising subsidized handset in the past, at least conceptually in remarks made by CEO Eric Schmidt and others. But it would be tough to pull off in practice. MVNOs like Blyk in the UK have historically found that the appeal of “ads for minutes” programs are limited to select demographic groups (read: young and not affluent). Furthermore an ad-subsidized GPhone would potentially compromise the user experience, which is contrary to what TechCrunch claims is the objective of this device.

Indeed, TechCrunch is absolutely certain that a GPhone is coming. I hope so myself. I’m interested to see what “Google’s pure vision of what a phone should be” would be.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Mobile | Yahoo: Mobile & Go

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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