Imagine the world a year from now-August 2012-and the attempt by AT&T to buy T-Mobile is clearly doomed. The FCC still hasn't decided toapprove the license transfer, the DOJ is still askingdifficult antitrust questions, lawsuit after lawsuit is piling up, and AT&T shareholders are getting restless. T-Mobile, meanwhile is still hanging in there in merger purgatory. Even AT&T's lust to bring back Ma Bell is starting to wear thin. Obviously, something has got to give.
Admittedly, the scenario above is pure speculation. It's possible, if highly unlikely, that the merger will sail through the regulators without a hitch and AT&T will be on its way to resurrecting Ma Bell as a wireless monopoly in at least some portions of the U.S.
But that pretty obviously isn't going to happen. The obstacles that stand in AT&T's way are growing. The groups supporting the merger are dropping by the wayside one by one. AT&T's other supporters are already starting to show a lot less ardor. By this time next year, T-Mobile could very possibly need a savior. Google is in the right place at the right time to be the company that saves T-Mobile.
So what's in it for Google? In short, it has the opportunity to become the world's first totally integrated information company. Google already controls the biggest trove of information in a single place. It has one means of delivery through Android, another through Chrome and another means of integration through Google Apps. With theacquisition of Motorola, it will have the means to deliver information nearly anywhere. Buying T-Mobile would then be the final step to controlling the means of delivery by controlling the carrier that provides the pipes through which that information is delivered.
In other words, Google could own the whole vertically integrated enchilada, lock, stock and barrel. Google could afford to do this out of cash on hand. Equally important, it's one of the few companies with enough clout to pull it off. After making all these connections, Google with its access to the world's information would be tough to outmaneuver. A quiet approach to the board of directors at Deutsche Telekom about how they've been waiting over a year for their $39 billion should be enough to start a discussion.
Now that Google has shown that it's interested in more than just managing information through its purchase of Motorola, the company may well be interested in owning the complete information universe. Google already has a large part of the world's information somewhere on its servers.