The Wall Street Journal has shagged a nifty scoop about Google and Verizon apparently burying their spiteful hatchets to work together on mobile search.
In the deal, Google would become the default search engine on phones sold by Verizon, the No. 2 U.S. wireless provider. This sounds pretty much like the deal Google struck with phone maker Nokia in February. Google is also the default search engine on Sprint devices and Apple’s iPhones.
At the time, Google kicked out Microsoft as Nokia’s search provider. The Google-Verizon deal has different dynamics because Verizon is using its own search service. Clearly, it is inferior to Google’s search or Verizon wouldn’t make the switch.
Verizon has had some issues with Google, particularly after Google successfully fought to get wireless carriers’ networks opened to more applications and devices.
Verizon also opposed the search company’s bid for 700MHz wireless spectrum. That plea was denied by the Federal Communications Commission and Verizon was forced to outbid Google for the spectrum, which it did in March.
What I found interesting about the piece is one of the sticking points: Google’s wants to save information from user cell phone searches that it can use to target ads toward users. Verizon, like every other carrier, is reticent to give up this kind of control. It’s the kind of quarrel that can kill a deal in a New York minute. GigaOm’s Stacey Higginbotham has more musing on this issue.
I believe Google and Verizon need to quash those quibbles so that Verizon can install Google as its mobile search engine, which will make life easier for the company’s users. Happy customers are good for both Google and Verizon.
Supposedly, Google and Verizon would split any mobile ad revenue. This is secondary in my view. I think this partnership can jumpstart what is a relatively stingy mobile ad market; Google has cited this space as one of its green fields, along with video and social ads.
There can be more to this deal for Google than user data and mobile ad revenue, though. If I were Google I would get Verizon to carry mobile phones that run Google’s Android mobile operating system.
Verizon is the lone major carrier who has been standoffish about Android, probably because it’s still stinging that Google got the FCC to order open networks and forced the phone company to pay more for the 700MHz spectrum than it would have.
Becoming the default mobile search engine on Verizon is nice and all but without Verizon’s support, I’m not sure Google can make Android take off in the United States. Verizon’s support would be a big help as the company ramps for the launch of the HTC Dream in time for Christmas.