The Unthinkable: Verizon Dates Google

August 23, 2008

Late last year and in the first four months of this year, one of the consulting firms who use me as an old rented brain had me do Google Mobile briefings. We did five or six of these to different telcos. I showed up, did my talk, took bullets and left. I can honestly say that the telcos were clueless about Google.

The key points in my briefing included:

  • Google’s interest in thing telephonic date back to 1999. One of its first patent applications was for Quality of Service
  • The sweep of Google’s patent documents and technical papers was broad, making it clear that ideas were not confined to two or three lone wolves; there was a range of interests evident
  • Search was “baked in” to many innovations; that is, an innovation in mobile “snapped in” or “hooked” into search functions.

Now battle lines are starting to be visible. AT&T has a deal with Apple. Verizon may have a deal with Google. You can read informed descriptions of the speculations, insights about informed guesses, and business analyses. I found these write ups useful:

  • eCommerce Times has a “why the deal is good” write up here.
  • GigaOM’s useful business-technology comments here.
  • The site has a good business slant on the alleged deal here.

My take on this deal is somewhat different from the Wall Street Journal type of analysis. First, I think Verizon, like IBM, believes it has the upper hand in any deal with a vendor. Google’s a vendor, so the Verizon mind set is “we have this under control.” I think Verizon has only limited awareness of what Google’s capabilities are. Remember. Verizon is doing a search deal.

Second, Google is going to benefit from this deal. When the agreement is finalized, Google gets to learn from Bell Heads. How this first hand knowledge plays out is anyone’s guess.

Third, Google is not “officially” in the telephony game. Forget the Android partners. Forget the Sprint close dancing. Google and Verizon–it’s the hard evidence that Google is serious.

Exciting stuff if the deal gets done.

Stephen Arnold, August 23, 2008


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