& cplSiteName &

Analysts: Google Plans Lack Substance

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan

As much of the technology sector goes ga-ga for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) after this week's announcement of the Android open software initiative, industry analysts are excited, but many aren't yet sure exactly what to make of it. (See Google Makes Mobile Move, Google: Android's Not Evil, and Android's Data Impact.)

With the free Linux-based, open-source Android operating system, Google aims to speed the development of Internet applications for mobile handsets. And the Internet giant has galvanized an impressive list of mobile players to support the Android platform and kickstart the Open Handset Alliance . A few of the big shots in the alliance are China Mobile Communications Corp. , NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM).

But analysts are not clear on exactly what Google's proposition is, and some doubt Google's ability deliver on vague goals related to mobile advertising.

"It's difficult to analyze because they haven't given much detail," says John Delaney, principal analyst at Ovum Ltd. . "How much of this is about posturing and how much is it about delivering something new? We're always in danger of ascribing omnipotence to Google."

Delaney doesn't think Google's proposal to reduce the fragmentation in mobile phone software is actually all that new -- that's what Sun Microsystems Inc. has attempted to do with mobile versions of Java.

Vincent Poulbere, (another) principal analyst at Ovum, agrees that Google's plan lacks details.

"The announcement comes as a criticism of existing platforms -- namely Symbian Ltd. ," says Poulbere. "But it's an announcement without much concrete in it yet."

Ultimately, there is potential for Google to replicate its wired Internet advertising-based revenue model in the mobile sector. But the mobile advertising business model won't be a near-term reality because of the relatively low use of mobile Web services.

"That's a very steep hill to climb," says Delaney. "As more of [Internet applications] happen on the mobile phone, the more conducive it will be to advertising."

One analyst also questions how Google's ad-supported Web services will work for mobile pre-pay customers, which make up roughly 70 percent of the world's mobile users. In many markets, operators do not require pre-pay customers to register their personal details, which will make targeting those people somewhat of a challenge.

"Web content is not friendly for pre-pay customers," says Dean Bubbley, founder of Disruptive Analysis Ltd. . "Perhaps [Google] will be happy chasing after the same 30 percent of high-end contract customers [as everybody else]."

The one thing that didn't surprise analysts about the online giant's mobile move is the absence of a Google handset. They say the device manufacturing business is just too far removed from Google's business model, which is based on advertising revenues. (See The G-Phone Cometh, 3G G-Phone, G-Phone, No Strings, Google Phone: Out of India?, and Google's Mobile Hiring Frenzy.)

"I never thought they would develop a phone," says Delaney. "It's clear why Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) would, because it makes most of its money from hardware. Google doesn't make money from hardware or end customers."

"Google isn't looking to offer just a product," says Frank Dickson, chief research officer at MultiMedia Intelligence . "What they're doing is allowing people to monetize other applications."

As for Google's mobile infrastructure ambitions, those plans remain elusive. Google has indicated an intention to participate in the upcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 700 MHz spectrum auction. And it has invested in femtocell startup Ubiquisys Ltd. . (See 'Open Access' Gets Closer, FCC Straddles Open Access Issue, Google Eyeing UK Broadband?, Apple Joining Consortium Bid for 700MHz?, Google Pledges $4.6B for Spectrum, and Femtocell Startup Pockets $25M.)

One analyst says that being some form of infrastructure provider is a more likely fit with Google's business model than making a mobile handset.

"Google has an interest in getting as much spectrum operating under an Internet model rather than a telecoms model," says Ovum's Delaney. "That fits with what they do. It's about furthering access to the Internet."

Bubbley at Disruptive Analysis is not convinced Google will actually become a mobile network operator, though. Rather, he could see Google partnering with a mobile operator to bid for spectrum in the U.S. or other markets.

At the very least, calling the mobile industry's soothsayers about Google's mobile move has produced an entertaining list of sound bites (or clichés). Here's a choice few:

  • "Google is trying to chuck a boulder into the pond of the mobile industry." — John Delaney, principal analyst, Ovum

  • "This is Google pulling its chair up to the mobile dinner table and saying, 'Thank you, can I have my share now?' " — Shaun Collins, senior analyst, CCS Insight

  • "This is a huge warning shot across the bows of everybody in the industry." — Collins, CCS Insight, again

  • "We see a battle of giants." — Vincent Poulbere, principal analyst, Ovum

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Pete Baldwin
Pete Baldwin,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:59:13 PM
re: Analysts: Google Plans Lack Substance
Here's a columnist saying that if Android is to succeed, Google ought to become a wireless carrier:


My opinion -- having Google in control of so many facets (the software, the apps, the network, the subscriptions) just isn't healthy, no matter how "open-source" it all is.
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:59:07 PM
re: Analysts: Google Plans Lack Substance
Google need not be in control of everything you mention in order to succeed, which in their case will be measured in volume of mobile traffic directed through their system to create ad revenues. Hpefully, just coming up with the ecosystem and the core OS should be sufficient to warrant wide adoption.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Friday, October 21, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Evolving the Data Center
Rasool Kareem Irfan, Head, Telecom & Infrastructure Security Practice, Tata Communications Transformation Services Ltd (TCTS)
Wednesday, October 26, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Tackling DDoS
Gary Sockrider, Principal Security Technologist, Arbor Networks
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX's Plan for DOCSIS Deployment

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join VeEX's CEO Cyrille Morelle and Light Reading's Alan Breznick as they discuss VeEX's new products at SCTE 2016 at Philadelphia.
LRTV Custom TV
Smith Micro's Carrier-Grade WiFi Component

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Carol Wilson of Light Reading as she interviews the CTO of Smith Micro, Dave Sperling.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Amazon Unlimited, Alexa, AI & How to Cut Off Google at Its Knees
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/14/2016
WiCipedia: Following Women on Twitter... and on Stage
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 10/14/2016
US Issues Total Flight Ban on Samsung Note 7
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/15/2016
Oh Snap! Qualcomm Unveils X50, Its First 5G Modem
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/17/2016
Verizon Wants More Data on Yahoo Breach
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.