Would you buy a phone from Google?

Columns & Opinion, Internet, Mobile phones

Will Head writes…

The latest rumour doing the rounds is that Google is gearing up to launch its own phone service in the UK. It’s not suggesting the the company is putting together its own handset, rather you’ll pay it for airtime instead.

Google could launch the service in a matter of weeks, by teaming up with O2 and effectively sub-letting some of its network. By becoming a virtual operator, it doesn’t need to set up its own network, just piggy back on an existing one.

Virtual networks have been less successful elsewhere in the world, but it seems we don’t really care who we buy our airtime off – as long as the handset is free and we get lots of inclusive minutes and texts thrown in every month.

The thing that’ll make it different from just any old mobile phone service is that the phones on offer – a range of Nokia models apparently – will come pre-loaded with bunch of Google mobile apps.

It seems a rather extra extravagant way for Google just to get a few extra users of its mobile apps – surely it’d be better to team up with either the handset manufacturers or networks and just strike a deal to get the software bundled when the customer buys it?

Unless it’s got something really clever up its sleeve, it’s hard to see exactly what Google can offer over and above the existing networks.

Maybe it’s thinking about expanding its Adwords program to cover phone calls as well? Would you put up with contextual adverts inserted into your conversation if it meant free calls? Okay, it would probably be a bit annoying to have a computer butt in when you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone – but if you’re not paying for the call, maybe it could just work.

Will Head
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