Google Disruptions Roil Telcos

January 5, 2010

Take a gander (no pun intended) at “New Survey Shows Android OS Roiling the Smart Phone Market.” The survey points out, like most surveys, what is in the rear view mirror. The notion of predictive analyses remains too fuzzy for most research firms. Nevertheless, this Change Wave study makes clear that folks realize that Google’s push into markets only loosely coupled to search don’t follow traditional, top down marketing probes. For me, the most important comment in the write up was:

…21% of those planning to buy a smart phone in the next 90 days say they’d prefer to have the Android OS on their new phone – a monstrous 15-pt jump in just three months.

Let me set the baseline. About 24 months ago, there was essentially zero awareness of Google in the mobile phone market. Android was a non issue. Without much in the way of traditional marketing, advertising, or sales, the research firm’s figure of 21 percent makes one thing clear—the Google is making progress in a market that has a different heft and feel from Web search.

Think about this percentage. If a company like Ford were to enter the ice cream business and surge to an awareness of more than 20 percent, Ford would have had to spend a heck of a lot of money. Even if the company pulled off this ice cream coup, most people would struggle to fit ice cream into the struggling auto company’s product portfolio. For Google, this type of jump seems to fit.

What’s the payoff for Google? A new market? A product extension?


Google thrives because its telephony thrust is not much different than Google’s other products and services. Google is about digital services. Software allows Google to convert its search and advertising system into whatever its programmers want to do. Forget the physical devices, which Google does not manufacture. Focus on the software and the platform. Why hasn’t Microsoft or Yahoo been able to make the same push? Easy. Those companies lack the infrastructure of innovation and plumbing that Google has.

What’s interesting is that the telco crowd has figured out what Google is doing and seems unable to respond. People are busy reacting to Google. That’s the rear view mirror problem. Once Google probes a market, incumbents have to figure out what happened and what to do about it.

Incumbents must react to the Google. Google moves to another probe or maybe a couple of other probes. The disruptive shocks create opportunities. Google moves toward clicks which are like a Geiger counter’s clicks to Googzilla. The incumbents are trying to figure out what just happened.

Uncomfortable for incumbents. Tough to counter in my opinion. And search? It is baked into everything Google does, just like the flour in grandma’s chocolate chip cookies. No cookies for telcos I fear.

Stephen E. Arnold, January 5, 2009

I wish to report to Sullivan College’s cooking school that I was not paid for this write up involving rear view mirrors and chocolate chip cookies. Sigh.


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