Google, in a series of really interesting acquisitions and investments, is well on its way to fundamentally redefining the mobile landscape, how you market in it, and what the mobile experience may be.
Today's announcement in the WSJ regarding Google's mobile search rollout is a BIG one:
"Google Inc. is developing a new search service for cellphones that will help consumers find and buy ringtones, games and other mobile content...Google already offers cellphone users a version of its popular engine for searching the Web. Now the company wants to go beyond just looking up Web pages, effectively becoming a gateway for finding and paying for mobile media content."
Mobile Carriers in the US have fought hard to own their mobile experiences - remember all the hubbub they raised about number portability? They also own the storefront on your handset called the 'deck'. It's possible to buy "off-deck" programming, but the carriers don't do anything to make it easy. If Google can make it easier to find and buy off-deck content, the carriers' walled gardens are little more than mobile Maginot lines, outflanked by tactics they didn't expect.
But Google's been up to more than that! Dig a bit back, and we see that In 2007 alone, they've picked up:
GrandCentral, "a company that lets you keep one telephone number as you move from home to home or job to job".
Neven Vision - which offers "image-driven mobile marketing services, visual mobile search, comparison shopping and m-commerce, enhanced photo messaging, secure data access and field identity verification." Yummy. Easy uses? Snap a shot of a product in a store with your mobile, have it spit out cheaper alternatives and directions.
Back in 2005, Google picked up Android. Who the heck is Android? Well, it's founder, who invented the Danger hiptop computer experience, said "there was tremendous potential in developing smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner's location and preferences. "If people are smart, that information starts getting aggregated into consumer products"
One blogger notes saracastically, "Wow, just what I've always wanted: Google now will be able to pin a more-or-less permanent UID [user ID] to my Internet activity as my online usage starts to migrate more and more from my laptop onto my mobile phone."
They know who you are, anywhere.
Here's a pretty good list of the full moves, courtesy of Christa Quarles:
Why all the ruckus? Why does Google care?
Thomas Weisel research analyst Christa Quarles, in a paper on Google's moves cited by ZDNet's Dan Farber, Larry Dignan and David Berlind, notes:
"Google's best opportunity is in the mobile market... Google's text ads are well suited to the mobile market; the market is still in flux; and Google's Web users are likely to use the company's software on the road. Yahoo is shaping up to be a major competitor, but if Quarles is right mobile market share may mirror search market share."
The ZDNet crew goes on to state:
"We believe mobile internet advertising should develop faster than PC internet ads, however, precisely because we already have a precedent and the expansion should be much more global in nature. In addition, should Google achieve similar dominance in mobile that it has achieved in PC-based online advertising (we estimate 45% of every online ad dollar will go through Google’s system in 2008), the contribution to revenues could be meaningful. Getting even 10% of the mobile advertising market in 2011 would make mobile a larger contributor (on a net revenue basis) than Google’s entire affiliate business today."
Follow the money. Now that it's mobile, it should be even easier. :)