Clearwire to Offer Google Apps, Search

The wireless provider will switch customers to Google's Gmail and Calendar and use Google AdSense for Search.

Practically duplicating a deal it made with Sprint last summer, Google inked a pact Jan. 15 to let wireless broadband provider Clearwire offer certain Google Apps to its roughly 350,000 consumer and business customers.

Clearwire, looking for partners to help build out a global wireless network, will begin migrating its current customers to Gmail and Google's Calendar application in the first half of this year.

Clearwire customers will also have access to Google's Talk instant messaging and VOIP (voice over IP) software.

Clearwire will also use Google's AdSense for Search to provide Google search capabilities on future Clearwire portal applications.

Financial terms were not made public and neither Google nor Clearwire responded to requests for comment.

The deal is a win for Google in that it will be able to put some of its increasingly popular Apps in front of more consumers and business users as it seeks to supplant Microsoft in the collaboration software market.

Google particularly wants to place its Apps in front of mobile device users and is on a quest to bridge the gap between the experience a user gets on a desktop and a mobile device. More mobile Apps users could lead to greater mobile advertising dollars down the line.

Wireless deals evolve in various permutations. Before this Clearwire deal, Google struck a similar agreement with Sprint July 26 in which Sprint agreed to offer its WiMAX customers Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk.

Sprint and Clearwire had planned on a wireless distribution deal, but the phone carrier scuttled the plan Nov. 9.

That implosion, along with Google's plan to bid for 700 MHz wireless spectrum at the Federal Communications Commission's auction Jan. 24, triggered speculation that Google might buy Clearwire or Sprint to get better footing in the wireless market versus Verizon and AT&T.

Indeed, though Clearwire entered its 50th market around the world Dec. 17 when it went into Rochester, N.Y., analysts have said the company needs a larger footprint to supplant traditional dial-up, cable and DSL powers.