For Google, business time is fast forward all the way. Hard on the heels of its bombshell announcement of its entry into the mobile satellite navigation market, Google has made a $750 million purchase of AdMob, a company that can deliver advertising on portable devices.
Then last week it purchased Gizmo5, a voice-over-Internet startup which Google will set up as a rival to Skype. If true, what’s next? Free calls over the Internet to land lines and mobile phones anywhere in the world? That would certainly please me as I fork out about $120 a year to buy such a service from Skype. Zero is the kind of price I like.
The debate on sites such as eWeek’s Google Watch centres on how the company will leverage Gizmo5 with its other services. Some suggest with good reason that Gizmo5 will be combined with its Google Talk Web chat client, Google Voice’s applications, and Google’s Android mobile operating system to provide users with one control point for all of their web-based calling needs.
Watch out telecoms providers! Google has already taken on search, mapping, navigation, the news and book publishing sector, and basically disrupted the market. The telecoms sector, with its ingrained and anti-consumer market models, is ripe for the plucking.
To understand these moves is to realise that Google is an advertising agency; or perhaps more an advertising facilitator. Google is an advertising company seeking to create venues for its customers, whether it has to invent them or buy them.
It reached the $22 billion in revenues a year mark through its trademark search engine. It coupled the search engine to other people’s news before adding video through YouTube. Ventures into satellite photographs through Google Earth and mapping brought it to the stage where it produced Google Maps Navigation two weeks ago. In the same breath Google announced the addition music search feature through which users can play and buy songs.
Now it wants to bring advertising to the mobile phone, hence its announcement of the purchase AdMob. The new Google addition sells ads displayed on wireless devices.
As the Boston Globe states, the impact is immediate: “With this acquisition, Google becomes the largest player in the mobile-advertising industry, with an estimated 30 to 40 percent market share.”
How will a free phone service work? Some bloggers suggest that Google could gain revenues by linking advertising with calls in a non-obtrusive manner as possible. Thus while someone is waiting to answer your mobile phone call you hear advertisements ranging from five to 20 seconds.
The ads can also be targeted based on the caller’s location in exchange for gaining free phone calls.
With Android, its ready made mobile platform, Google is poised to take over the mobile market, Apple’s iTunes and iPhone apps sector, Skype’s domain and the whole telecoms market. No wonder everyone is screaming – “How can we compete with free?”
The answer is: Google has changed the strategy and vision of your market and free is competition. Hopefully, regulators and politicians will recognise this and not kill the innovation in the market and marketplace simply because the established industry is screaming their heads off about “unfair” competition.
There is nothing unfair about a new industry model (or an old advertising model applied in an innovative way to a market) that opens up possibilities for consumers and other businesses. There is nothing unfair about free, at least on the Internet.
And in case you did not know, the 2009 Word of the Year according to the New Oxford American Dictionary is “unfriend”. Yes, my friend, this is the Facebook age and as I have debated on these pages. The dictionary defines ‘unfriend’ as a verb denoting the removal of someone you have accepted on a social networking site such as Facebook.
How do you refuse an invitation to link up with someone you never really liked in high school; or exclude someone who has already managed to latch themselves to your Facebook account? Why you unfriend them of course. I find that hard to do. Perhaps I just want to be liked.
Other candidates for the technological word of the year are: hashtag(a # sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets that contain similarly tagged items); intexticated (distracted by texting while driving), sexting (sending sexually explicit SMSes and pictures by cellphone); netbook (a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory; and paywall (blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers).