Pros and Cons of a Google Phone

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-11-25 Print this article Print


Noting that carriers are tired of subsidizing handset costs, Abramson said carriers such as Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and others could offer consumers a flexible plan that doesn't lock users into two-year contracts. He pointed to T-Mobile's solo plan, a 30-day rolling plan in which T-Mobile provides voice and data services for consumers who bring their own phones and SIM cards, as a model for a possible play by Google.

With such a plan, a consumer could order a Google phone and have it work anywhere in the United States and overseas, accessing Google Voice, Google Gmail and Microsoft Exchange server, Google Maps Navigation, Facebook, Twitter, and a host of other applications.

Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin, however, said he doesn't believe the alleged Google phone would be as disruptive as it's being made out to be.

Golvin said he believes Google may have gone to a handset manufacturer directly and had it make a device that has Google's brand on it, similar to what Apple does. 

Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle ripped the idea of such a Google Phone as an affront to carriers Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile, as well as handset makers such as Motorola and HTC:

"The old rule is that you never go into competition with your partners. You either license or you vertically integrate. If you try to do both the conflicts kill the effort; either the clones undercut your margins, or they simply don't trust you enough to give you the support needed to be successful. In short, Google doing their own phone would be a Christmas present to their competitors that would likely keep on giving."

But Golvin said he thinks Android licensees would be okay with this, believing that they could do a better job than Google because they have access to the same platform and Google's services.

"It's not like Google, if it were to launch this device, would go back to HTC and Samsung and Motorola and say, 'You can't have Google Maps,'" he said.

Even so, Golvin said he doesn't believe Google would benefit from building its own phone in the long run. He thinks Android and Google Apps are merely the vehicles to drive more advertising to Google and it doesn't matter what devices they run on or what company offers them, as long as mobile ads are being served.

"Fundamentally, that's what Google wants-it doesn't matter what brand of phone you have or what carrier network you're on. They want to be right there at the top of the phone for customers to bring their attention to Google and its advertisers."


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