Google wants to disintermediate cellular market too
Ever since Google Android mobile OS was announced last year, everyone has been guessing what is the Google’s endgame here.
Afterall, an operating system for mobile devices has very little to do with Internet search or advertising marketplace of Google AdWords and AdSense, which are the key elements of the power Google wields today.
Well, Google may see it a bit differently. And, by getting it’s own not insignificant footprint in mobile industry, Google might be aiming to do to wireless the same thing it did to advertisers with their AdWords and AdSense platforms:
Create a transparent auction marketplace with wireless providers bidding in real time to provide the communication services to users.
At least that’s what the latest Google patent application called “Flexible Communication Systems and Methods” indicates.
In this patent app Google envisions a communications device that is capable to connect to any available wireless network (e.g GSM, CDMA, Wi_Fi, WiMax, etc;).
When talking to the wireless networks, the communications device is able to obtain the terms of services from these networks, then select and connect to the one that is best suited to it’s needs.
Wireless service providers can submit and adjust the real time bids offering their services. These can include voice, data, VoIP and various other communication forms.
Here’s one example described in patent application:
As one example, when in a home, the device may use a broadband communication method for which the user already pays a fixed monthly rate. When the user leaves the house, they may be transferred to a metropolitan network, which may be part of the same plan as the home plan, with monthly pricing, with use-based pricing, or with free use supported by advertising. When the user exits the metropolitan area, where free or low-rate pricing may not be possible, the system and methods may permit the user to transfer to a pay-for-use network. In addition to cost as a factor in selecting appropriate telecommunications providers, users may opt for alternative auction models based on maximal bandwidth offered, best coverage/reliability, or some combination of options.
In such a system the possibility to provide wireless communication services might not be limited to the big carriers. Heck, with some software magic, your encrypted Wi-Fi network might be able to invite a passerby to place a VoIP call through it, reserve and provide the necessary bandwith and then charge for the service.
While device might be able to handle rate/service negotiations itself, a more efficient way might be to have a “coordinator service” to take care of these things. And, of course, such a system will need some sort of “coordinator service” to handle all the billing, payment and compensation issues.
Well, guess who already has a working platform and an auction marketplace, serving millions of users making tons of realtime transactions?
Of course, given the state of cellular industry, none of this appears to be feasible right now.
But Google is not alone in thinking about the possibilities to create an open marketplace for wireless services. Apple has been contemplating something very similar too.
From the patent app’s filing date (March 19, 2007), it seems that Google has researched these possibilities when it was preparing to bid for it’s own slice of wireless spectrum. While they did not get it, they got at least some assurance the new spectrum will be open to any device and any service.
And with new wireless technologies coming into play, increasing competition between traditional carriers, WiMAx service providers, private Wi-Fi coverage, metro Wi-Fi networks, better/more flexible radios in mobile devices, who knows how mobile industry may look in 5 to 10 years?