Google’s mobile phone plans haven’t been officially rolled out yet, but we’ve been getting plenty of hints, via reports like John Markoff’s Sunday NYT profile of Andy Rubin, Google’s director of mobile platforms.
Update: It’s official. Live conference call notes. And four things we still don’t know.The press consensus: Google (GOOG) will offer up a phone operating system along with services that will work with multiple handsets and carriers. Its goal: To secure mobile real estate where it can sell ads. We should hear more sometime today. In the meantime, we can speculate about who wins, and who loses, when the GPhone hits the market in 2008.
Google’s carrier partner(s). Apple’s iPhone is the latest proof that a hot handset can convince customers to switch carriers; even despite AT&T’s lousy reputation, the carrier has signed up hundreds of thousands of new subscribers since the iPhone went on sale. Google is likely to launch with Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile; other reports speculate that Verizon Wireless will end its feud with Google and partner with the company as well.
Google’s handset partner(s). Taiwan’s HTC is widely reported to be one of Google’s main phone makers.
Smartphone buyers. Want a phone that’s more serious than an iPhone, less serious than a BlackBerry, more stable than a Palm, and that doesn’t run Windows Mobile? We do. And if Google is willing to heavily subsidise its phones, it can not only compete for existing smartphone buyers but help expand the market.
Mobile developers. It sounds like Google really wants anyone to be able to write apps for its phones. This could create a thriving cottage industry, much like Facebook and MySpace have done with app and widgetmakers.
Palm, Symbian, Microsoft, RIM. If Google’s software is any good, mobile OS rivals are in trouble. The BlackBerry has a loyal fanbase, Palm, a much smaller one. And no one in the U.S. feels rabid about Symbian or Microsoft phones to begin with.
Apple. In anyone going to hold off buying an iPhone because they want to see what Google has to offer? Maybe.
Yahoo! This could have been yours years ago. Why isn’t there already a Yahoo! smartphone with a digital camera running Flickr software, a mobile Web browser running del.icio.us software and rich, interactive versions of your Web portal, accented with Yahoo!-brokered mobile ads?
Competing mobile ad networks. Unless you’re Google’s partner, you’re the enemy. Ask Yahoo!, Microsoft, IAC’s Ask, etc., how they like their positions in the Web search market.