Mobile operating system developers groaned when Google launched Android. Now, wireless carriers may start groaning along with them. That’s because Google is challenging the status quo in the wireless space
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday, Google announced clear cut plans to launch a wireless service in the U.S. Google executive Sundar Pichai didn’t reveal all the details, but he did offer just enough to generate plenty of buzz for what he described as a small-scale service.
“The core of Android and everything we do is to take an ecosystem approach and [a network would have] the same attributes. We have always tried to push the boundary with the innovations in hardware and software,” Pichai said in an on-stage interview, according to TechCrunch. “We want to experiment along those lines. We don’t intend to be a network operator at scale. We are actually working with carrier partners. Will announce something in the coming months.”
Who Should Be Worried?
Maybe Google’s challenge won’t keep the big four up at night after all -- at least not all four of them. So what does it mean? That depends on which carriers end up partnering with Google. Pichai did not offer names. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon could not immediately be reached for comment.
“They know what we are doing,” Pichai said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “In the end, partners like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S. are what powers most of our Android phones. And the model works extremely well for us. And so there’s no reason for us to course correct.”
Google appears to have much more to gain than to lose. According to IDC’s latest data, Android holds 81.5 percent of the smartphone operating system market, gaining 32 percent in the past year. By way of comparison, Apple owns 14.8 percent, Windows Phone holds 2.7 percent, and BlackBerry has .4 percent of the market.
Boosting Nexus Handsets?
We caught up with Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst, to get his thoughts on Google’s big reveal. He told us Google has actually already entered the wireless space in two ways over the last several years.
“Google entered with the Android operating system and makes the mobile platform available to other companies. Google also entered the market with its own handsets,” Kagan said. “Android is a success. Google’s own handsets are not. While we think that Google is always successful, that's not always the case.”
As Kagan sees it, Google still wants to be a competitor in wireless with its handsets. Going the MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) route could be the answer for Google -- or maybe not.
“MVNO does not give Google the type of control they typically want,” Kagan said. “But it will be interesting to see whether MVNO will be successful for Google this time, or not.”
Image credit: Google CEO Sundar Pichai by Google; iStock/Artist's concept.
Posted: 2015-03-02 @ 1:44pm PT
Google might have 81.5% of the market, but not 81.5% of the profit. For the record, I have a Motorola Droid Turbo which is sold exclusively on Verizon.