Google's Mobile Content Plans

5:00 PM -- The Wall Street Journal reports that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is working on a system that allows users to search and pay for mobile content on their phones.

The move makes good sense for Google, which derives much of its revenue from search-related Internet ads, and has already said that it sees the mobile Web as one of the next big growth areas for its business.

I have to wonder, however, how happy the carriers will be with a third-party system that allows users to find and pay for ringtones and other downloads that aren't part of the operator's offerings or preferred payment mechanisms.

Operators like AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)(nee Cingular) are already said to have cracked down on small content providers that allowed its customers to pay for content via a credit card or PayPal rather than have the total added to their cellular bills.

Google doesn't really have a choice but to create such a mobile payment system, and I suspect the carriers will also have to accept less control over the mobile content chain over time. If Google doesn't get there first, then Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) or Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) will. The search giant can't afford for that to happen.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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