Would Google Ever Consider Buying A Wireless Carrier?

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Based in no small part to the comments posted on blogs everywhere, including yours truly that have followed the news Deutsche Telekom might IPO or possibly spinoff its US division. Interestingly enough, readers on almost every blog/news outlet that posted this article are tossing around the notion that Google should consider purchasing T-Mobile. Google, having released its Nexus One and having expanded its Google Voice offering is clearly interested in the telecom industry. However, is Google a suitor T-Mobile would even consider? Should consider? More importantly, would the government allow it? Google has its fair share of detractors regarding its size, privacy issues and its sudden expansion into almost everything internet related. Nevertheless, let us be honest for a minute, Google is not thinking about today or tomorrow, they are thinking about tomorrow a year from now, especially in respect to technology and their investments. I cannot even pretend to know what sort of huge undertaking this would be if such a deal were to piece itself together. For the record, this is complete speculation, there are no hints whatsoever that T-Mobile is actually for sale or that Google has even heard of yesterdays Wall Street Journal report.

I bring this up, not just because of the comments I have read but also because of a Gerson Lehrman Group, report that says it makes sense for Google to buy T-Mobile. However, it is thin on information and even thinner on reasons why…but the fact that the article was written shows that people are starting to think of what a T-Mobile sale could look like.  I mean let us just placate these rumors for a moment. Imagine Google suddenly has 33 million Google Voice customers. What is to stop them from giving away their phones ad-supported? Would people really go for phones that are free, but inundated with ads every time they make a phone call, or go to browse the web. Free sounds great in theory, but there is a price for that freedom and speaking frankly, I’d MUCH rather pay for a phone and not deal with ads than receive something for free than view an ad for a watch company every time I go to browse the web.

Therefore, for the moment, this is all rumor, speculation and a little fantasy. I do not want to see T-Mobile go by the wayside and I do not think any of our dear readers do either. That being said, if the wheels are turning somewhere, Google might be using their bright minds and wondering if this is a chance to begin their global takeover.

What say you?

Gerson-Lehrman

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  • manus

    i dont know if i should be happy or scared about google taking over tmobile.

  • Peter

    If Google plans go the way they want it, they’d be controlling everything, from every request that comes out of your internet connection (DNS), to the kernel and browser in your computer, to your email, to your documents (Google Apps), to where you go (Google Maps), to where you are (Google Latitude). This is evil and really very scary.

    Don’t believe Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” idea. Because Google is evil and when the time comes you will pay for it.

    The scariest part is that everyone is just looking at how convenient all this free services are, but not thinking if there’s a hidden agenda.

    If Google buys T-Mobile Network the moment they sign the deal I will cancel my contract and I will switch to another carrier. And I am really serious about it.

    The last thing we want is Google spying on our phone network and recording customer conversations in the name of improving network or product.

    And that is why I don’t use any of Google products and they will never see me as their customer.

    • sikkboy

      LoL I love the paranoia! Haha, all kidding aside though, I’d rather Google stick to providing me search results.

    • umaluver

      You are bat shit crazy. Stick with Glen Beck. Technology blogs are out of your wheel house.

      • sorandkairi

        @ umlauver
        LOL, ol boy sounds like he is about to sh!t himself.

    • zazou

      I killed my nexus one because Google was able to activate the video camera and upload my life to you tube……

  • B

    I think people make too big a deal over ads. If someone told me I could get a N900 for free with ads, You wouldn’t hear any complaining from me.

  • God

    No.

  • Rickb

    “Imagine Google suddenly has 33 million Google Voice customers. What is to stop them from giving away their phones ad-supported?”

    Give them away and give away the service, and I’ll sit up and take notice.

    “Would people really go for phones that are free, but inundated with ads every time they make a phone call, or go to browse the web.”

    Not many. If I have to wait through an ad to make a call, there is a lot of convenience lost. Do I get ads on 911 calls? Oh, and the answer is ‘of course not’. Assuming someone doesn’t go completely stupid.

    “I’d MUCH rather pay for a phone and not deal with ads than receive something for free than view an ad for a watch company every time I go to browse the web.”

    You’re being hammered with ads on almost EVERY site you visit now. Getting a free phone changes the value proposition. Ads in phone calls? Nope, I think that’s not happening.

    Google could buy a carrier just for spectrum, sure. And they could start deploying devices of any sort.

    The lie is that free phones are ever free. Airtime always costs. Now if Google has a way to give away airtime, I’m lookin. How much did TMO cost to operate in 2009? I doubt Google can yet give that away without monetizing these subscribers, and driving them crazy with ads. So no, Google has no proposition to buy TMO.

    However, they have reasons to buy bulk minutes and serve Google Voice subscribers. Maybe a swap?

    • sorandkairi

      Althought I would have to agree, ad-supported calls would suck; dude u are getting WAY too bent out of shape about something that has not and probably will not happen. And when at all did u hear or ever read from Google or any official statement about Google giving away any phones for free. Hell the Nexus 1 is $530. That aint free and thats from Google! Look, calm down, David was clearly saying what COULD HAPPEN. It, at this point and time, means NOTHING. Do go off and kill urself or nothing. Go take a zoloft…relax!!!!! But i do agree if implemented like u have stated…ad supported calls would… alot!

      P.S. the thing that would stop Google from even attempting to do such a thing as that in that way, would be the people. If people didnt want to put up with it then Google wouldn’t have any “free” mobile service customers. As another side note, it also would undermind what they are trying to do with Android at the moment! So like a said… relax!

    • zazou

      I am sure someone would come up with a mobile ad blocker..

  • joseph

    That sounds kinda scaey ad supported calls

  • Deadpan

    On that note. I’m waiting for my invite to Google Overlord.
    I can’t wait to be oppressed!

  • mast3rpyr0

    I for one welcome our Google overlords and cannot wait for the day that every electronic device i own has a Google brand on it :)

  • prettyboy85712

    Google + T-Mobile = Skynet

    • joe

      hahahahahahaha………..maybe

    • http://phonedog.com starving333

      “skynet” Very funny… a little scary…

      • sorandkairi

        lol scary but true lol… not really scary but still funny!

  • Elie

    Google better be really careful with the expansion of their business. The Feds (FTC and Justice in particular) are keeping an eye on them and in fact they are waiting for the right moment. We always hear about “google taking over books”, “google taking over this…” so, I would not rush into this even if it makes sense. The specter of antitrust suits and monopoly power is already too big to be ignored.

  • Jonstonson

    Doubt it will happen, but even if it does… Google will still only own a portion of the company and would probably contribute alot to the network… we’ll see i guess!

  • dulux

    I wouldn t be supprise if they did buy it they already have google voice. Everybody is calling google evil but they don’t understand that every business out there including the goverment has a hidden agenda. If you really think you leave in a free country think again they watch and listen to everything we do. For example sprint as a commercial where it tell you how many text messages were send every month and how many call were palce now tell me if google is still the only company that has a hidden aganda.

  • JBUMMER

    Bring on Skynet then! It would be a huge move on Google and T-Mobiles part. A merger with another company would really suck unless they could buy ATT or Verizon… not gonna happen. Tmo needs to stick around, but they need to do some rapid upgrading of their 3g towers. I am still stuck on edge in between towns that have 3g. This is not good. Google could pay for it……

  • CO_Yeti

    This rumor has been out there since a year ago (maybe longer). The fact is while DT thinks Tmo USA is under performing in terms of its investor’s goals, the company is actually quite stable. We went through last year without any layoffs (Verizon and At&t didn’t) and raises start again in March. The fact is Tmo needs capital to expand its network so DT is thinking of an IPO or sale of PART of the company to raise that money because DT isn’t willing (or in a position) to pump its own money into the US arm.

    If Google did get involved they would do best to take over the sales and product development as well as put up the cash to expand the network. Actually building the network, HR, and customer service would stay the same.

  • SteveG1

    It is interesting to think of Google buying T-Mobile, and though I don’t believe it is going to happen right now, I do believe it could happen in the next 2 years if T-Mobile doesn’t pick up the pace.

    As for having having a phone with Ads…I sure as hell hope not!

  • Todd

    I say yes if they give us all Nexus One’s.

  • Danny

    Google already has a vested interest in Clear which Sprint uses for their flavor of 4G.

    I can see a company like Google buying a minority share in T-Mobile USA but I doubt they’d want to buy the entire entity.

    If Google owned T-Mobile USA, I can guarantee you that Verizon, AT&T and Sprint would stop carrying Android products. Also, Apple would never sell their iPhone or iPad to a Google owned company for those who may want those products.

    I would like to see Google buy up to 20% of the company and help invest in its network. Right now T-Mobile USA has been about it alone. It’s parent company DT has had to pay huge divedends to the German government which has prevented it from heavily investing in T-Mobile USA throughout the years.

    • SteveG1

      Agree 100% If not Google, then some other company with fat pockets. The problem is that’s exactly what DT has been trying to do and can’t find anyone. Hopefully they do, and soon. I really want the HD2, but now I am going to keep my G1 until this all pans out. Well I guess I should say, if T-Mobile is still in the phone business come March, then I will buy the HD2. This whole merger, sell, IPO crap has been going on for a while and could go on for even longer for all we know. WSJ’s reports that DT will be having numerous meeting regarding this topic and will come to a conclusion in 2 months from now…I remember reading similar posts when I bought my G1 in Dec 2008.

      • CO_Yeti

        Haha, IF T-mobile is in the phone business come March…. good joke.

    • sorandkairi

      Completely agree!

  • Ruben

    do itttt hehehe…..u know google will find some slick way to lower costs and get us more for less…..ads….shit im sure somebody will come up with something to block that on android phones :D

  • Aldo

    I do not have nothing to hide and therefore nothing to be scared about .
    I love Google and Adroid . I will be happy if Google buys T-mobile .

  • efjay

    If it happens, would switch to another carrier immediately.

  • Daniel

    I don’t think they would put ads on every time you make a call. Look at google voice on android you make calls and send texts and no ads.

  • Daniel

    on the other hand android is open, Someone will make a rom with no ads.

  • timmyjoe42

    Google sells ads.
    They weren’t interested in making phones and won’t be interested in being a carrier.

    Google as a wireless carrier to promote data usage, their software, and their websites is an interesting concept though.

  • beastly

    G-Mobile? That actually sounds awesome. Those of you who are calling Google evil are way off-base. The company gathers a lot of user data, but they’re not snooping on your private communications. Why would they bother?

    Google provides lots of free applications (email, maps, etc.) for consumers who want them. They then gather use data and sell it to companies so that those companies can better market their products to the public. What that means for you and me is that we get free services in return for what amounts to participating in market research. Companies then get data from Google in order to be able to better market to your personal tastes. If you think of advertising as evil, then don’t support companies that advertise. (Good luck with that.) But if you think of advertising as a way for companies to make you aware of products you may be interested in, then it’s a win-win situation.

    I don’t see voice services providing much profitable data for Google, so I doubt they’d subsidize voice calls, but if it’s cheaper to route voice calls over IP, I could see them doing that, and then passing some of the savings on to the public. Also, they could use call data to target network enhancements based on usage, which seems like another instance of win-win.

  • Sgt. Cell

    Google is not the answer, I say buy out smaller carriers and continue to build out the network. With the phone lineup they have this year, no reason not to grow. Sprint and Verizon offer mobile TV, give people the features they want and try to stay competitive price wise.

  • sorandkairi

    I acutally think that something like that “Goomobile” would be a great idea. Frankly now when i think about T mobile, and this statement isnt because i actually like android which i do, I think Google. Verizon would be another worthy carrier in the US for google to purchase although GSM is worldwide standard. I think, and this is clearly just me, that if Google actually had itself a actual telecom. that the advancement of mobile technologies would not only jump leaps and bounds, especially in the US, but it would be great for the american economy as a whole, I know that’s a stretch but think about.

    But honestly the fact that google has on their huge databases ALL on my info doesnt scare me all; to be honest i’m acutally happy about, just gives a company or a name to sue when it hits the fan. People are so concerned about their “private” information on the internet really for no really. Every1 ISP keep the same information whether u know it or not for keystrokes to password and SS#s! Privacy is only an illusion in regards to the internet.

    All that being said, i would gladly allow Google to become my new voice and date mobile telecom. carrier if the were to merge with Tmobile. I does seem like a good step for both Deutsche Telekom and Tmobile. Now whether it will happen or could happen (FCC) is the question!

    • sorandkairi

      I should probably proofread my next post… too many misspelled words, lol!

  • FILA

    Im really scarred for T-mobile actually, I dont want to see them go

  • Wilma Flintstone

    If that happened, then Google would have to have taken the full blame for the Nexus One 3G issues as they wouldn’t have anyone but themselves to point the finger at.

    Anyway, it’s a bad idea.

  • Mark

    If Google bought T-mobile, that would be the absolute end of WM on T-Mobile!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Ahh Yo!

    Google needs to stay out of cellphone business and stick to search engines (bread and butter). I don’t want to see T-Mobile leave the U.S., but if they do, that’s up to them and I’ll just have to suck my teeth. Verizon sucks…no seriously! and AT&T needs to get off their high horse in order for me to consider switching. I’m not even going to comment on the small guys.

  • reddragon72

    If this happened I would leave T-mobile. not that I don’t like Google, but I see them as the next Apple and Apple sucks the life out of people and they have them trained to agree with it and come back for more. So sad! So sad!

  • mikeeeee

    if they do as good as they have done so far, it’s ok by me.

    they scare the hell out of everyone they compete with.

    if they scare t-mo’s competition, it might mean something better for us.

    • Wilma Flintstone

      or it might mean mandatory plans for us all

  • jrperiod

    Here is my question. Whats the big deal with ads? I see apps in the market take Tweetcaster for example that the lite version has ads, and the pro version doesn’t. The thing is the ads version has the smallest of banners that to be honest i don’t even notice. Is this really a big deal?

  • Jason

    I think this would be great! Google has such a powerful name that if marketed right it would do awesome.

  • David

    I would rather have Stewie Griffin take over the world than Google!

  • Usman

    This is a horrible idea. Google needs to focus on propagating Android on every carrier worldwide, starting with all carriers in the U.S. and Europe and moving eastward. By buying T-mobile, there would be a huge conflict of interest in working with any other carrier.

    I’ve been a T-mobile customer for 8 years, and while I like Google and T-mobile, I strongly disagree with the notion that a merger or acquisition is in either company’s best interest.

  • Joseph Singer

    If indeed Google does decide to buy any wireless operator I hope they don’t think the model of email support is all they’ll have to provide. There are times when you actually have to talk to someone about a problem or have a question that needs to be answered and not in 24 to 48 hours.

  • Tito

    G-Mobile, anyone?

    I think it would be good.

    Ad-supported calls? Not likely. Ads while randomly going through your phonebook, web, etc? Yeah, that I can see… IF you choose the phone/service for free.

    Or you can pay like you do now for no ads.

    That would be a win-win.

  • Voiceofreason

    Honestly, I do not see Google taking any part of T-mobile, they have too much invested the Android product with other carriers.

    What I do see is Comcast (or whatever they’re called today) jumping all over this. They have been looking to get into the mobile services and this may be their chance.

  • T

    I don’t want to see T-Mobile change in to anybody elses hands, I would be okay with it if WIND Mobile Canada bought T-Mobile and offered free Canada-USA Roaming on all their plans tho that would be cool because they use the same frequency

  • Mockerfab4

    I’m mixed about this. In some ways, Google is good and bad. Good in that they would truly provide an innovative and distinctly different business model then the other 3 other carriers. Google Voice on cell phones would totally shake up the industry, which would be great for consumers. Bad in that I’m fearful that they would mostly have Android based phones. Sorry, I gave Android a good college try and hated it so much! I’m currently playing the wait and see game with Tmo. I’m off contract right now and things are a bit shaky in the direction that Tmo is going, that I can be easily swayed from one carrier to another right now, dependent on their phone offerings and price.

  • ItsMichaelNotMike

    Well I coined the phrase that what Google wants to sell is a new category of phone, the “AdPhone.”

    The AdPhone is consistent with the emphasis of Google’s business, which is selling advertising to third parties, using us as the appeal (“Advertise with Google and you will have access to potential customers interested in YOUR business, customers using the full range of Google’s services and even our new AdPhone.”)

    Because advertising is Google’s core business, IMHO Google won’t ever get into businesses other than what they are experts at: Internet advertising.

    I suspect the Nexus 1 is a very small experiment into branching out, but I also suspect that Google is now saying “Screw this.” LOL. I don’t think Google is inclined to stray into other industries, especially those that require significant levels of customer service, which handset sales and carrier service would require.

    Wireless services would require Google to operate with its pants pulled down, so to speak. Google does not operate that way. It is a fact that Google operates in a very secretive manner. (Its AdSense program has been heavily criticized because Google makes it impossible to contact them for any reason. You can’t e-mail or call them. If you go to your AdSense account page Google does not provide any way to meaningfully contact them.)

    Selling phone and wireless services would be a nightmare for Google because among others, that would put govt. regulators watching Google’s every move. They don’t need or want that headache (look what happened with the current flap over the ETF fees).

    So I don’t see Google opening themselves up to additional scrutiny, hassles and headaches (that come from dealing with the public).

    Also, does anyone have any evidence that getting into the wireless industry is a great move nowadays? I suspect not. To me this is a good time to fold up one’s tent and put one’s money into something else.

    There’s a price war between the big boys, handset sales are way down, the economy sucks so people are tightening belts and there’s uncertainty on who will end up where.

    I dunno about you, but it looks to me like buying a wireless service is like getting a dog with lots of fleas. This is a time for Google to say “Hell no, go away, I’m not interested,” unless Google could buy T-Mo at 10 cents on the dollar of its value.

    So that’s it, the industry sucks, Google knows nothing about running a wireless company, and they would be getting into an area completely foreign to what they are experts at.

    Google is best served by sticking to what they know.

    Look at the user agreements you digitally sign when you use anything that Google provides for free, such as YouTube, Google Earth, Search, Chrome, etc. Here is an example of Chrome:

    Information website operators receive when you visit a site using Google Chrome
    ___________

    Sites that you visit using Google Chrome will automatically receive standard log information similar to that received by Google. These sites may also set their own cookies or use web storage on your machine…

    Information stored on your computer when you use Google Chrome
    ____________

    Google Chrome records useful information about your browsing history. This includes:

    •Basic browsing history information: the URLs of pages that you visit, a cache file of text from those pages, and a list of some IP addresses linked from pages that you visit.

    •A searchable index of most pages you visit (except for secure pages with “https” web addresses, such as some bank pages)

    •Thumbnail-sized screen shots of most pages you visit

    •Cookies or web storage data deposited on your machine by websites you visit

    •A record of downloads you have made from websites”

  • Dom

    Wow. The comments some people come up with truly amaze me. Someone earlier made a great point as to the whole Google is evil thing. Do we not forget we live in America? The land where your government is keeping tabs on you to “protect your interests”. The same place where people are fired at work for what goes on social networking sites and for tracking email, IM’s and browsing history of employees. This notion of Google infringing on people’s privacy is outdated. They at least take the info and deliver useful content with it. They provide good services for free using the revenue they generate from this. They’re pretty good at updating their products when things go wrong or when they have good ideas to benefit people. Yes their people and overall a company like any other, so mistakes will be made. I don’t think buying T-mobile will truly benefit them as much as perfecting the Android OS and pushing to every carrier. On the other hand, if they did buy T-Mobile US you can be sure they will change the way US wireless carriers are forced to operate. We have grown so used to crap from the big 4 that we get suspicious of any chance at a different environment. T-mobile has great customer service, a decent phone offering, and a strategy that involves getting feedback from its customers to actually enhance their services. Maybe its just me, but I like that as opposed to companies spending millions on advertising campaigns when both have glaring issues (AT&T and Verizon). Either way the current carrier model is in trouble since people are tired of contracts, crappy service and very few real benefits from their carrier. Google benefits my life and it’d take a lot more than Google and T-Mobile to make Skynet.

  • GUYMOBILE

    I want GOOGLE to buy T-moible.. can’t wait to see what will happen.

  • http://google Augie

    g-mobile got a nice ring to it lol i still will and always be am android fanboy