Talking tech since 2003

Google is a huge company; there’s no debating that.  What once started out as a simple project to index the web has taken off to become one of the largest and most notorious business empires ever to be created.  Between email and collaboration services aimed at both enterprise users and individuals, Google seems to have sunken its feet into just about every industry conceivable.

One of the more recent projects that Google has been focusing on is the Android mobile operating system.  Android OS, which was initially released in October of 2008 is currently one of the largest and most rapidly growing mobile platforms based on market-share.  However, with the overwhelming success that has been the Android operating system, I believe that a lot of us are beginning to wonder; when will Google cut out the middle-man and become their own mobile carrier?

One of the first aspects that we must look at when formulating an answer to this question is Google’s involvement in Internet services (that is, being an ISP – not simply a web organization).  For many, Google’s announcement of Google Fiber in February of this year wasn’t a big surprise.  After all, it only made sense that the technology giant would try to edge in to one of the few communications fields where their presence was non-existent.  However, despite the fact that people and governments are showing interest in Google’s fiber service, the would-be revolution has yet to become a reality.  For this reason, I don’t see where Google would be able to build upon any existing infrastructure, simply because the nation-wide network that Google would need simply hasn’t been pieced together as of yet.

Even Google Voice (originally GrandCentral and purchased by Google) has yet to be what most people thought it would be, despite having been open to the public for a matter of months now.  To me, Google Voice almost seems like a failed attempt to transition users over to a would-be Google carrier by allowing them to migrate their voice-mail services and establish themselves with a more “portable” phone number.

One aspect that would be very interesting to see would be how Google would implement their own network with the Android OS.  In a similar fashion to how Apple controls both the hardware and software aspects of the Macintosh computer, I think that Google would be able to “optimize” their mobile network and handheld OS in order to produce the most seamless experience possible.  However, Google’s involvement with Android OS would likely be one of their biggest downfalls as well.

Even if Google were in a position to start a mobile network tomorrow, it still remains that their venture into a mobile network would likely be seen as a conflict of interest with their development of the Android OS.  Having said this, I am certain that mobile networks (and handset manufactures) would venture away from Google’s flagship OS simply because their continuing to sport it would be of benefit to their new competition.  If Google were to be abandoned by current networks and manufactures, the company would need to make their network work in order to make up for their losses.  However, this would be a gamble, as Google would essentially be tossing aside their existing business relationships and constantly-growing success in order to enter a new communications field – one that wouldn’t be able to guarantee them the same level of success that they currently see from their involvement with Android.

Looking past the mobile manufactures and carriers, end-users are the people who have the biggest influence in any industry.  You see, any technically-savvy or even relatively up-to-date individual knows that Google as a company is huge.  The fear of such a large entity would have the potential of scaring away privacy-conscious users who feared for the privacy and sacredness of their personal data – a fear that wouldn’t be alleviated with some of the bad press that Google has been getting.  Lest we forget, Google’s specialty is data-mining.  Combine this with a users’s potential lack of faith in Google’s network and timidness to leave their existing carriers, and it’s easy to see why converting users would be a hard sell.

When all is said and done, I think that Google has a bright future in the mobile industry.  Android OS seems to be getting better and better with every release, and Google has made a lot of their existing technologies available on mobile platforms as well.  For this reason, I think Google will continue to be a great content provider and software developer for years to come, and I feel that their success in the mobile industry has only just begun.  But at the end of the day, Google’s entering the mobile industry as a mobile network would be a large – and unnecessary – gamble for a company that seems to be doing just fine where it is.

What do you think?  Would you trust Google as a mobile carrier?  Do you think they’d be successful?  Let us know in the comments!

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