What’s Google’s next plan for mobile?

Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Tuesday is a big day for those trying to figure out just what Google is planning for the increasingly important mobile phone market.

    The Internet giant has scheduled a briefing about its new mobile phone, Nexus One.  Nobody is certain what’s planned, but Google has managed to create a lot of buzz in tech circles about it.

    Some, like Jeff Bertolucci at PC World, have hopes that Google will break away from the traditional way mobile phones are sold in the U.S. Unlike the rest of the world, devices here are heavily subsidized, but a user must sign a lengthy contract with a carrier to get the subsidized price.

    Over at online news site CNET,  Tom Krazit, takes up Google’s plans, too.  As part of  "Five New Year’s resolutions for Google," Krazit urges CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to clarify their plans  for the mobile device market. He offers this analysis of the situation:

    "The beauty of the mobile computing market is that it is truly up for grabs, and that no one company appears ready to dominate in the same manner that Microsoft came to own the PC. But Google will have crossed a line if it really does plan to sell its own phone: it will have leaned on the efforts of others to create a viable market for Android only to swoop in once the software has grown popular with a device of its own."

    And then there is the growing mobile advertising market.  Google has made crystal clear how important it sees that rapidly expanding sector by offering to buy global market leader AdMob for $750 million. It would be the company’s third largest purchase after $3.1 billion spent on DoubleClick and the $1.65 billion for YouTube.

    My colleague Jeff Chester at the Center for Digital Democracy and I have asked the Federal Trade Commission to block the deal because of antirust and privacy concerns.  The FTC has asked Google for more information.

    We’ll all have a better idea of what the Internet giant is planning for mobile tomorrow. For now, this much is certain: Whatever is planned will be good for Google, but by no means necessarily good for the rest of us.

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