Questions About Google Becoming an MVNO

Some quick questions that I have following the reports that Google is striking deals with Sprint and T-Mobile to become an MVNO;

  1. What will the larger carriers, Version and AT&T think about this? Unlike Android OEMs who had to rely on Android in spite of how Google provoked them with Nexus phones and Motorola, carriers do have a choice. If they decide that they don’t want to do business with a competitor, they can more heavily promote iPhone or Windows Phone, and de-emphasize their efforts selling Android phones.
  2. Will Google have access to the data that flows through the wireless network? I think this is unlikely because MVNOs don’t own the wireless communications infrastructure, but I don’t know much about the system so I can’t really say. I’m sure Google would like the data, but if they really did, they could simply monitor everything that happens on Android phones. Maybe eavesdropping on the network is more acceptable than on the phone.
  3. Is this a Nexus? As I recall it, the purpose of the Nexus project was to create good hardware and sell them at low prices, hopefully encouraging their OEM to follow suit. Is the purpose of the current deal to do this. Since MVNOs are completely reliant on their partner for the network, Google has no control over the quality of the network. The only thing they can control is price. They might try hard to lower prices, that’s all that they can do.
  4. Is Google just dipping its toes into the water? Maybe their ambition is to eventually become a full scale carrier. Becoming a carrier would give them data and the ability to improve on quality.
  5. Maybe Google just wants the money. Despite all the businesses that Google is getting into, money generation is almost all from their old search advertising business. As the Internet and even smartphones are starting to saturate the market, it is likely that Google will start to see its revenue growth slow down. Google is certainly looking for other ways to earn money. Maybe becoming an MVNO is simply part of this plan. Maybe they are simply looking for profitable businesses in adjacent markets. I doubt that MVNOs make much profits, but Google has to start somewhere.

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