The roll out of free WiFi continues in the US, with Silicon Valley following the Google initiative in Mountain View and San Francisco. Rumours persist that Google plans to provide free access around the world through GoogleNet that would allow them to target ads on a geographic basis.
We think there is a better, cheaper way. Launch a Google MVNO.
Google have seen the potential of mobile and are investing heavily in mobile services; their SMS service in the US is highly rated, mobile search is proving very successful and they already 'improve' websites viewed on mobiles. They're using their knowledge of WiFi to experiment with VoiP and Google Talk on mobile. And people seem to have forgotten their purchase of dodgeball - a mobile social network service (using location) that is now in most US cities.
But if they launched an MVNO they could get really serious about Mobile. They're a sufficiently strong brand to drive take up - and through their search they could reach everyone in the market for a new phone deal or handset. They have a pretty good billing system, through adwords, that could be ramped up to deal with consumers phone bills.
The European market (where Google is even stronger than in the US) shows that MVNOs can be really successful. They also have a crucial advantage - they could use their ad revenues to subsidise call costs.
What ad revenues? The Google rocket scientists could use the information derived a phone subscriber relationship (from sign up through to real time data on calls and data usage) to drive really rich profile driven ad targeting. We all know the ad industry is obsessed by the potential of mobile as an advertising medium and as use of data increases Google could provide advertisers with their dream medium - location and profile targeted mobile advertising. And we've seen demos of ad supported SMS - imagine if Google offered an SMS version of gmail - free messages as long as the messages carry an adwords ad - or a banner.
So how about this as a proposition - Google mobile gives you cheaper calls, free SMS, all you can eat data pricing, a location based social network (that could seriously damage MySpace mobile ambitions) and advertising that is always relevant to you and where you are.
What else would they need? Really cool handsets. Google have a relationship with Nokia but perhaps they could get close to Apple and be the distribution for the much rumoured ipod phone? After all Eric Schmidt has just joined the Apple board - and there is a big Apple announcement planned for Sept 12.
So Sergei and Larry - if you'd interested in this idea we'd love to help you develop it. But we suspect you got here well before us.