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Google Attack On the Mobile Market Rumored 324

Posted by kdawson
from the first-the-itablet-and-now-this dept.
xchg writes in with a somewhat speculative, though plausible, piece from WiseAndroid claiming that Google is gearing up for an all-out assault on the mobile-phone market that will include a new, Google-branded handset and the first comprehensive Google phone service with unlimited free calls. "The real breakthrough, however, will come with the marriage of the Googlephone to Google Voice, the Californian company’s high-tech phone service. Google Voice gives US users a free phone number and allows unlimited free calls to any phone in the country — landline or mobile. International calls start from... just over a penny a minute. Google Voice also uses sophisticated voice recognition to turn voicemails into emails, can block telemarketing calls automatically and offers free text messaging. Google sounded its intentions two weeks ago when it purchased a small company called Gizmo5... [E]xperts are predicting that the Googlephone will be launched in the US early next year."
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Google Attack On the Mobile Market Rumored

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  • by BuckaBooBob (635108) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:45PM (#30250718)

    This will be very interesting to see how this will work out as every Cell Phone Carrier will do what ever they can to Quash this as its attacks their revenue streams.

    This should prove to be an interesting battle as google has the funding to fight tooth and nail to ensure the cell carriers don't lock them out.

  • if this is true... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by garynuman (1666499) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:45PM (#30250724)
    wouldn't this, if true, lead to a pretty massive shakeup in the telcom industry? i would imagine at the very least the pricing of plans would have to change drastically
  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:49PM (#30250792)

    google has the funding to fight tooth and nail to ensure the cell carriers don't lock them out.

    and in contrast to all the phone carriers, a large percentage of people like, or at least respect the company. I can pretty much only see some good coming out of this.

  • by NeuralClone (860360) on Friday November 27, 2009 @07:50PM (#30250802)
    This is all very interesting but Google Voice barely functions when calling internationally. And I've had horrible luck with it domestically too.

    I've been trying to use this service for a while now and it consistently connects me to random numbers in the country I'm calling (yes, I'm dialing the right number and I'm dialing correctly). When I actually do connect to some random person, they can't hear me 4 out of 5 times (and that's being generous).

    When calling domestically, I get connected to who I'm calling, but 50% of the time one of us can't hear the other. Very irritating.

    So, until they can actually guarantee that their service, you know, WORKS, this isn't something I'm remotely interested in. Google Voice isn't even close to ready for anything beyond a fun little service to play with.
  • Re:Adapt or else (Score:1, Interesting)

    by deathguppie (768263) on Friday November 27, 2009 @08:16PM (#30251042)

    Google will be facing up real giants this time. Not just a few web services. We all think of Google as a big company but compared to Comcast they are not so big at all. I'd say they'd better have thier sh*t together for this one.

  • Re:Anonymous Coward (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TSHTF (953742) on Friday November 27, 2009 @08:21PM (#30251080) Homepage

    It would just go over the air as data. For example, 1500 minutes of G729a voice uses (4.12kB/s * 60 seconds * 1500 minutes) = 370 MB

    The question is what kind deal Google could cut with the carriers to provide nothing more than 370MB a month of data transit.

  • by phonewebcam (446772) on Friday November 27, 2009 @08:28PM (#30251162) Homepage

    4G is IP only - it *only* carries data. Perhaps Googles adoption of voice over the current 3G system will speed up 4G developments.

  • by Myopic (18616) on Friday November 27, 2009 @08:32PM (#30251200)

    Goodness, I hope Google offers a phone.

    Today I went to an AT&T store (I'm an AT&T customer) trying to buy a phone, as I've been doing for literally years. I'm a computer programmer, a big nerd, and I still have a crappy candybar phone from 2002. I really want some kind of super smart phone, but no company is apparently willing to sell me one! To me, my constraints all seem reasonable:

    • The phone must charge and sync data over a standard USB or mini-USB cable, with no proprietary chargers or data cables.
    • The phone's software must be under my control, so I can install a new operating system if I want, or whatever else I want. It must be a fully open hardware platform, the same way I can install new software on my computer.
    • The phone must use standard SIM cards so I can easily switch telephone providers, or travel internationally with pay-as-you-go SIM cards.
    • The phone must have Bluetooth which can be used for earbuds and for data syncing.
    • If it's a smart phone, it must be able to show real full webpages, not just mobile versions of webpages.

    Really, are those such unreasonable requests? I'm just not willing to pay money to companies that make me endure shenanigans such as:

    • Phones that only work on one carrier. (WTF?)
    • Phones that require a $50 cable to sync data or to charge the battery. (WTF?)
    • Phones that have Bluetooth but it can't be used to sync data, only to communicate with proprietary peripherals. (WTF?)
    • Phones that hold information for the people I contact, but provide no way to get that info off the phone. (WTF?)

    So the first company that offers me a smart phone with zero shenanigans is going to get my money. I'm desperate for a new phone, and I'm going to buy the first one that is above the threshold of acceptability! My phone is an embarrassment, and I'm a perfect candidate for an expensive new phone, and I'm really surprised that there is no company that wants my money.

  • by zogger (617870) on Friday November 27, 2009 @08:33PM (#30251222) Homepage Journal

    At first I thought, whoa, the google phone company, then I broke down and RTFA....You still need a "plan" of some sort from a carrier unless you are using this google phone at some free leeched wifi spot or at home on your network. If you are at home..no need for a special phone, just use your headset and the software like you are now.

    If this takes off and people drop voice and go to data only plans, the carriers will just restrict the heck out of them, maybe even dropping the caps from five gigs to one gig, then a hundred bucks a gig after that, whatever they say, or stop offering data only plans, etc. In other words, they aren't going to get "cut out", you will still be horking over ca$h to attverizonsprint whatever.

    I am digging on much better quality phones though..eventually I think the mobile phone will more or less be your computer, and at home you'll just have a wireless connected screen and keyboard and mouse, etc with some NAS action.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday November 27, 2009 @08:38PM (#30251266) Journal

    It's more to do with the "pay off not only more than you owe, but also enough to pay for huge CC company profits

    The nerve of those for-profit companies turning a profit.

    Hey, I got an idea for you if the notion of a credit card company turning a profit bothers you so much: Get a credit card from a credit union. Most Americans are eligible to join one or more credit unions. Why we need to legislate "reform" on the credit card industry when the marketplace has already provided alternatives is beyond me. Maybe if people would spend some time doing basic research on the options available to them we'd all be better off?

  • The Google fan crowd are as bad as the Microsofties and Apple polishers together.

    To them, Google can do no wrong. Sure, you sacrifice privacy, but "LOOK AT THE SHINY!"

    I for one don't want an advertising company (which is what Google is) listening in on my phone calls. They would be pissed if their cell phone company sold their call information to advertisers - but Google can listne in - they're not evil.

    The days of Google not doing evil are long gone.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 27, 2009 @08:58PM (#30251408)

    Check out the Nokia N900. Runs Maemo, basically a completely unlocked Debian distro (unlike Android or Moblin, which while extremely polished are kind of sandboxes). Don't know if the cable is standard mini-USB, but I think Nokia is pushing in that direction. It was just released and reviews are starting to trickle in. They haven't been completely positive (a lot of people don't like the older tech resistive touch screen, which is much less sensitive to fingers and can't do multi-touch), but I think this may be my next phone. You might want to take a look, too.

  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Friday November 27, 2009 @09:02PM (#30251420) Homepage Journal
    I'm an AT&T user (in before NSA wiretapping) and one of the most appalling aspects of their data plans is that tethering with a 5GB limit is an additional 60 bucks a month. It costs the same price per month for them to flip a magic switch on your existing phone as it does for them to give you an extra 3g adapter!

    Years ago I had a phone and a 3G adapter but the 3g speeds sucked and the coverage was spotty even though I was in a major metropolitan area. It's probably worse now that so many iPhones are saturating their network.
  • Re:Adapt or else (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @12:37AM (#30252488) Homepage
    Market cap is a pretty good yardstick of a company's financial resources. There are almost no non-monetary advantages that can't be overcome by an opponent with enough money. And no, Market cap doesn't tell the whole story either. Debt is an important factor. A company may be worth 100 million, but if it owes 200 million, it's not so good. Oh, but look.... Comcast has a Debt/Equity ratio of 67... so in theory 67% of their value is not theirs to spend, as creditors are going to want their money back. Now looking at Google's Debt/Equity ratio.... huh. It looks like Google doesn't owe anyone any money.

    Market cap may not tell the whole story, but in this case, it shows what most people already know: Comcast is a crappy, badly run company that makes money only by virtue of its municipal franchise monopolies, and like most cable companies it'll probably eventually end up getting bought by someone else when it eats too many even worse cable companies.
  • by symbolset (646467) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @12:40AM (#30252500) Journal

    People with half a brain are realizing Google is becoming the greatest corporate evil ever.

    Um, until I actually see google doing something evil, I'm going to have to not believe you here. AT&T isn't exactly the corporate version of Rainbow Brite [rainbowbrite.net]. Their evil is less theoretical and more actual. Google can do this to the phone companies because they're outrageously overcharging for their products. They pretend to be competing but it's obvious that what's happening is not a free market dynamic.

    Like the market for software, cellular services is a space where the cost of the invention is fully paid back several times over and the incumbent providers are engaging in rent-seeking behavior. All Google has to do to threaten that model is not participate in it, and instead offer a value and quality proposition. Maybe after Google rationalizes the cellular networks they will get into content distribution or Pharma. That would be nice. There's no lack of rent-seeking industries for Google to assimilate so this could go on for quite a long time.

  • by mofag (709856) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @03:18AM (#30253024)

    Google's Android is a huge let down, mostly because of Google's policy of rolling over and allowing us to get fucked by the other supposedly more traditional corporations. Apple says "please don't do multi-touch", they take it out (and fuck us), T-Mobile says "we don't want our customers to tethering" and so Google make it so no-one can tether (and fuck us - I am not even a US customer - how is this happening). Fuck Google and their phones (I have a HTC magic which I will need to hack to get it to do what Rogers told me it could before I bought it - i.e. tether - Rogers don't understand this either). I am saving my pennies and waiting for a Nokia (and maybe the next iteration which will hopefully be lighter). I was always a big fan of Google but they are too big and too much like every other corporation.

  • speculative is right (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cfriedt (1189527) on Saturday November 28, 2009 @06:54AM (#30253618)

    All I can say is that this article was well-described as being speculative.

    Why?

    • Google is not in the manufacturing business, they are in the software business, and their role in the OHA is quite clear.
    • Why would Google brand a single mobile from a single manufacturer, when they could brand 120 mobiles from 5 different manufacturers? Its the exact same situation for the up-and-coming commercial release of devices with the Chrome OS. It would just plainly be bad-business to limit the scope of one's own client base.
    • The telcos will still benefit in the end by having more people sign up for 'unlimited' data plans in order to get the phone (and its Google-branded apps) at an amortized price (e.g. half-price up-front w/ an expensive 3 year contract).

    The article could be accurate in saying that Google is planning an 'attack', but probably only by offering Google Voice on a much broader range of mobiles than it currently is.

    Also, I would like to clarify that any data is not the same as any other data. "Real-time" video or voice data certainly has different statistical / spectral / max-latency characteristics as, for example, email, web-browsing, or file downloading (including youtube), and that is the case regardless of whether or not its being pushed through the telephone system (circuit switching) or through a packet-switching network as IP data. In the latter case, however, latency usually becomes somewhat noticeable, so the compromise between price and latency (i.e. quality) is ultimately at the discretion of the end-user.

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