Another Googlesque act at the Nexus of the smartphone market

January 22, 2010 by
Filed under: Business, Technology 

 Google is an amazing social experiment. Besides giving bloggers an endless source of topics to write about, it challenges all common sense, business logic, and engineering innovation concepts. In a very Googlesque fashion, Nexus One was announced during 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. What is more surprising is that it will most likely be a success.

Without having had my hand on it it is tough for me to have an opinion on its performance. But given the engineering track record of Silicon Valley’s favorite they probably nailed it (even if they didn’t you know there will be a Nexus 2). But that is not what will make it a success, nor is that what is surprising about it. Motorola, LG, HTC, Sony Ericsson, and others have or have announced plans for Android powered smartphones. Yet, Google, the author of Android, decides to put out a device that competes with all of them. Moreover, Google does not have to make money from it (even though they will) since it is really a bet on mobile advertisement revenue. So far nobody has found a way to make money on mobile ads, but it is my contention that if somebody can figure it out it will most likely be Google. It is hard to imagine that Google decided to compete with their hardware partners just to make a “few” bucks selling hardware. They most likely did it for the same reason Google does everything else: to disrupt a market.

Imagine a world in which you do not have to pay for cellphone service. Pretty much the way you didn’t have to pay for TV in the past. Advertisers paid for it and consumers take advantage of that money flow. I know, I know, those days are waaaay over and not likely coming back anytime soon (until Google has a say). But in the mobile Internet business the biggest barrier to entry IMHO for mobile search to explode is the hefty $30 – $50 a month data fee from your preferred carrier plus a $100 – $300 “club entry fee” for your favorite smartphone. Sure there are hundreds of millions of smartphones out there and there will be more in the years to come, but the mobile search revenue still dwarfs the “fixed” one. Granted usability, contextual value, and other issues are still important. But Apple and Google will shortly solve those. Cost will remain a barrier. Unless, yes, unless it is free. In other words, paid by advertisers. You and I can pick our favorite smartphone subsidized by a carrier to get your voice revenue and Google pays your data plan as long as you search. Weird? Sure, but then again Google is known for its weird business models.




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