Five reasons wireless providers should fear Google

Google has become a mobile powerhouse in its own right, competing with wireless telcos that have been around for years.

When Google chief executive Eric Schmidt took the stage at Mobile World Congress, it seemed that many of his remarks were meant to placate the mobile phone industry. And for good reason: Over the last year, Google has become a mobile powerhouse -- this was Schmidt's first keynote in Barcelona, after all - that, in many ways, competes with wireless service providers. The past year has seen a proliferation of Android phones and the debut of powerful mobile apps such as Google Voice and Maps Navigation. It's a good thing in that Google's driving sales, but it's also a cause for concern. Here are five reasons mobile telcos should be worried about Google:

Google Voice, Maker of Dumb Pipes

Google Voice replaces all the basic services a wireless carrier provides, except for the actual data and voice. Google controls your phone number -- often used by carriers as a bargaining chip when you want to terminate a contract early -- manages voicemail, sends free text messages, and sets its own rates on international calls. So much for being bound to the ways of AT&T or Verizon Wireless.

Broadband Builder

As Google experiments with Gigabit-per-second broadband in a handful of cities, the company assured mobile service providers that it has no plans to compete with them. This is from the company that bid, albeit unsuccessfully, for wireless spectrum two years ago. If I were a telecom, I wouldn't buy Google's assurances.

Cell Phone Seller

With the Nexus One, Google decided not to sell the phone through T-Mobile's physical storefronts, instead offering it directly through Google's own Web site. This allows Google to sell both subsidized and unsubsidized phones. The strategy hasn't paid off yet, and I have a feeling telcos are hoping it never does.

Purveyor of Premium Services, For Free

Beyond voice, text, and data plans, wireless providers sell extra services for a monthly charge, such as GPS navigation or AT&T's FamilyMap, which helps parents keep tabs on their children. But those paid features aren't necessary when you have an Android phone with Google Maps Navigation and Latitude, offered for free.

Mobile Ad Dominance

So, if you're a wireless service provider, and Google's taking control of so many ways you used to make money, maybe you can turn to advertising, right? The only problem is, Google's got a tight grip on that, too. Today, Vodaphone chief executive Vittorio Colao threw the "M" word around, saying Google's too powerful in the mobile ad space, and needs government scrutiny. Schmidt's response? "As long as we're pro-consumer we'll be fine."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags TelcoGoogle Androideric schmidtwireless networksMobile World Congress

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?