This post is now at Technology Report:
Rumors that Google might buy Sprint appear to be mostly just that – silly rumors to catch a headline. Not so much that it would be a bad idea – for Sprint it would be the rescue they can only dream about as shifts in subscribers and the mobile landscape do not appear to favor Sprint right now. As a Sprint customer with 4 phones on the plan you’d think I’d be rooting for them, but my misadventures with bad coverage here in Oregon and back east, the overhyped Treo 650, and a ringtone scam I had to *remind* them remove too often has basically soured this customer.
If Google buys Sprint the Champagne should be popping – but probably not at Google though the economics of a deal like this are well beyond my expertise – probably anybody’s for that matter.
Google clearly wants to enter and effectively destabilize and reinvent the mobile market and they’ve already taken a major first step in the direction with the Mobile Handset Alliance. Also true that Google can keep a secret as the recent Myspace “Open Social” partnership made very clear. But I have a hunch they’ll do this more indirectly than managing their own mobile network. Cleverly, Google is poising themselves to be the keeping of most mobile advertising which is where the “extra” cash is now laying on the table. Open Handset Alliance phones will combine with mobile services and ads to bring a lot more advertising revenue into this market fairly fast, and Google is making sure a Google mobile OS, or something very compatible, is waiting there to scoop up the bucks.
Why buy the cow when you can get all that milk … for free?
Om Malik is reporting on several aspects of the coming Google Mobile operating system and/or “Google Phone” that will likely drive many phones and be available through several carriers which may include T Mobile and Sprint.
As noted before here at the blog, a Google mobile OS could be one of the most provocative applications in years. If the Google phones create a powerful ad distribution mechanism and place that on top of the data and voice services Google could reduce the cost of cellular service significantly (or keep the costs fairly high and rake in tons of mobile advertising revenues). In both cases Google wins big if their phone is widely adopted. Unlike the Social Network space where Google has a poor track record with Orkut, Google shines when developing great technology and combining it with advertising. For this reason I predict a huge Google win with the Google Phone.
Thinking about moving away from Sprint now that I can hopefully unlock my Treo 650 from the evil clutches of the marginal Sprint signal here in Southern Oregon. With a theoretically robust national network and a top of the line phone you’d think I’d get a signal on, say, all the key cities on the main drag here which is Highway 101. But it is not so – I’ve had connetivity problems even in Medford which is the largest city on I5 for hundreds of miles.
I’m also underwhelmed by the Treo 650, though I’d have to say the Google maps integration is nothing short of brilliant. When I tested some iPhones in Atlantic City I was blown away by the mapping feature from Google. Treo 650 mapping is inferior due to the small touchscreen but still very, very nice – one of those applications that Ben Franklin would have flipped his wig for (and then probably improved on – that dude ROCKED as a technologist!)
So, when Google gets busy with the new phone or software I’m gone, Sprint. Unless you sign up with them and get me a better phone with better features and cheaper cost. I’m not holding my breath on that.