Google: Don't Buy Sprint

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2007-11-13 Print this article Print



You have a good thing going. The ridiculous $200 billion market capitalization (and climbing). Your employees are happy. If your masseuses can retire wealthy in their middle age, surely your other employees will be able to buy heretofore uncharted islands rich in natural resources by the time they are through Googling.

OpenSocial and Android were, overall, well received. Don't go mucking up the magic by bidding for Sprint. You don't need it. I know it's tempting. What better way to get a mobile phone initiative off the ground than to buy a leading wireless network?

But know that this is a huge gamble. Sprint's market cap is some $45 billion, but you won't get it for that price. Shareholders will drive the value higher because, well, you're Google, and they can.

So, say you sell a lot of stock and burn through a quarter of your market cap. What do you have? The No. 3 U.S. wireless telecommunications network carrier, still millions of customers behind AT&T or Verizon.

Yes, you will have wireless infrastructure to support whatever phone plans you have, but you will also royally tick off the 30-something members of the Open Handset Alliance, many of whom I'm sure would not join if they knew Google would pocket Sprint.

Somehow, I believe there is a conflict of interest there, and you would scare off these members. The CEO from a mobile phone design and software company recently told me that several Linux vendors are already scared of Google's position in OHA. Imagine what buying a wireless carrier would do for their nerves.

Moreover, if you thought Verizon and AT&T ever opposed you before, there is no measure as to how hard and fast they would bring their fight to your door (crediting "The Bourne Identity" script here). If you thought Microsoft was a worthy opponent (stop laughing, Googlers!), imagine how though taking on the top carriers would be.

You want to sell a wireless phone? Fine. But you don't need to own the network. Leverage your existing WiMax relationship with Sprint. Partner with whomever you need to, but don't buy it. Follow Apple's route here, and you'll be fine. Your brand is every bit as solid as Apple's. You don't need to buy the orchard to sample the fruits of wireless success.

Remember your search roots, and don't take your eye off providing content over the Web.    


Clint Boulton  |

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