The More Gphones, the Better

Over on TechCrunch Erick Schonfeld is writing about the ever-elusive Google Phone (gPhone).  Personally I don’t see why the cell phone operators would buy in.

Say a cell phone manufacturer pays $50 to license the Windows Mobile OS (per device).  I have ZERO idea what the actual cost is, but I think $50 is probably on the high end when you are talking volume sales.

Cell phone minutes are printing presses for cash.  Data plans are money makers UNLESS too many people use them – then they break.  You can’t service all of your customers with the current (US) technology.  So while selling data plans is a money maker they want to sell them to people that don’t really use them a lot!

So why would a carrier adopt a gPhone to save the $50 Windows Mobile fee just to drive traffic OFF the cellular network (both voice and data?)

Doesn’t make sense to me.  I’ve no doubt Google likes this space, and would love to move into it.  I just think the barriers to entry are too damn high for what this article is suggesting.

Perhaps a more realistic Google aspiration is to give away a cell-phone OS with Google branding and services with no other real change in how we access data (thus ensuring the cell phone carriers cash pipeline stays nice and fat).

Of course, if Google came in willing to buy market share by sending most of the Ad Revenue back to the carriers then I suspect they might have some success.

In this scenario though it becomes a case of who has the deeper pockets – and as the entrenched leader in the Cell Phone SmartPhone market Microsoft can always turn the table and “give away” Windows Mobile.  They can also outspend Google in this space.

This is a tough market for Google to buy into and I would be surprised if they were willing to gamble that much on it right now.  Especially since I think this is a fight Microsoft can win – and a fight they will see as important enough to send in the A-Team.

And I think Microsoft is just dying to get into a fight with Google that Microsoft knows they can win.  Microsoft needs a big win, and if they smell blood they will bury the gPhone in incentives to carriers that Google won’t be able to match.  Not without pain.  Probably more pain than they are willing/able to suffer.

  • Free (or incredibly inexpensive) ad-supported phones.
  • Mobile versions of Google apps like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Reader, Google Calendar, and YouTube, pre-loaded onto the device.
  • Integration with GTalk, Googles IM and VOIP software (this one is controversial because it would potentially bypass the carriers more expensive voice minutes, especially if combined with WiFi, but it could also mean more heavy usage of mobile data plans).
  • GPay mobile payment software that turns each phone into a wallet.
  • A true open-source platform on top of which anyone can develop their own apps.

The More Gphones, the Better


  1. Another thought – why would a carrier want to give you a free or incredibly inexpensive phone? They use phone pricing to lock you into long-term contracts. Does anyone think Google really thinks they can change that model? Or that it is worth the cost in time and energy to do so? Prhaps. But I think it’s unlikely.