04 June 2007

Google's top five mobile moments

Google's top five mobile moments

Forget the company's WiFi initiatives, pervasive Google-branded handset rumors, Google MVNO rumors, Google-as-carrier speculation. Consider how the company's actual mobile product launches and comments about the mobile industry have left the industry reeling at times. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt just announced that the company is developing a number of mobile applications with mobile carriers around the world. So before the next big announcement hits, here's a look back at the top five Google-related maneuverings that left the mobile industry reeling:

1) Phones should be free: At the Web 2.0 conference in New York last November, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters that mobile phones should be free: "It just makes sense that subsidies should increase" as advertising rises on mobile phones. Schmidt admits phones may never become totally free for the consumer, at least not outside of Hong Kong, but advertising will drive down the costs substantially, as it did for newspapers. Article

2) AdWords Go Mobile: The launch of Google's AdWords service for the mobile platform last September surely resonated throughout the industry as the new class of search startups took note of their accomplishments thus far and braced for the battle ahead. Google launched a mobile avatar for AdWords in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany and is testing mobile ads that enable Google's AdWords customers to place messages on Google mobile search results. The ads contained two lines of text with a limit of 12 or 18 characters per line. Article

3) The carriers are blocking our maps!: Chris Sacca, the head of special initiatives at Google, claimed mobile carriers had been lobbying the company to stop people from using Google Mobile Maps. Sacca informed the audience at Oxford University's Said Business School: "We've been getting notes from some of the telco carriers who are saying 'look, you need to stop your customers from downloading this thing.' They're inserting themselves between you and an application that you want--I think that has scary, scary implications." Article

4) We are buying YouTube: Last October, Google bought user-generated content video portal YouTube for a cool $1.65 billion. During an investor call that day, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, "In the last 48 hours our engineers got together and came up with 20 or 30 different ways" that Google's technology could integrate with YouTube's. While YouTube has yet to launch in full on the mobile platform, it has inked deals for showcasing selected, pre-approved content for Verizon Wireless subscribers. I expect Google will launch YouTube unabridged for mobiles in the coming year.

5) The Dodgeball founders resign: This recent announcement marks what is perhaps the first setback for those optimistic about Google's future mobile domination. Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, co-founders of the mobile social networking service Dodgeball, announced their resignations from search giant Google, which acquired the property in May 2005. "It's no real secret that Google wasn't supporting Dodgeball the way we expected... The whole experience was incredibly frustrating for us--especially as we couldn't convince them that Dodgeball was worth engineering resources, leaving us to watch as other startups got to innovate in the mobile + social space." Article

So what do Schmidt and the engineers at Google have hidden in their handsets? Looks like we won't have to wait too much longer to find out. -Brian

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