Google looks all set to sell, or at least brand, a mobile phone, and all I can think is that this happened a lot sooner than I thought it would. For a while, the writing on the wall has suggested that Google would get all up in the grills of the telecom industry's established empires, but it looked to be a more gradual assault.
Instead, Google has jumped right to wedging itself between carriers and mobile device makers. What's next? Is Google going to run headlong into a radical transformation of established mobile industry economics and mobile advertising as we know it? Yes, apparently so. There has been quite a bit of speculation that Google's AdMob acquisition may feed into a strategy in which Google offers phones that are subsidized by advertising.
That's not something the traditional telecom companies would do, which is, of course, the point. After dabbling with new advanced advertising schemes and generating a lot of controversy, traditional telecom service providers have taken two steps back to let someone else try to figure out the future of ad-supported telecom products and services.
Those traditional companies have too much too risk, namely their network and their reputations, by being pioneers in this regard. Google doesn't have a network, its only reputation is that of a Web applications innovator, and it may be intent on filling the void. It doesn't have to play by any established rules, and seems determined not to let indecision be part of its identity.
The question is how far this experimentation will take Google. If the traditional carrier-device maker model can be altered, and all telecom devices and applications are moving into an ad-supported realm, Google is better equipped than traditional telecom companies for what lies ahead.