Two-plus years ago (Oct 2007) I wrote a letter that mentioned the prospect of Apple Computer becoming a wireless operator. Apple was discussing carriage of its recently launched iPhone with service providers; the idea seemed like a blatant negotiating ploy.
It was also difficult to imagine Steve Jobs — or any Apple executive — getting too excited about strand-mounting Wi-Fi access points.
Google is a different beast. Corporate culture at the Googleplex may be far removed from that of a tech ops (dispatchers, technicians) team responsible for deploying and operating wireless radios, but the engineering ethos at the Mountain View CA-based giant bears passing resemblance to some of the crazier (good crazy) innovation by MSOs.
A picture of the first iteration of the Google’s production servers, for instance, looks like something that Jim Chiddix’s team at Time Warner Cable might have cooked up in the Orlando Full Service Network in the mid-90s. (Come to think of it, Google’s Head of TV Technology Vincent Dureau and Chiddix both served as execs at OpenTV.)
And given the number of servers that Google manages, it’s fair to say that the company does know something about network operations.
It’s also difficult to discount any of Google’s strategic moves. Consider this selective timeline:
July 2007; Commits $4.6 billion to 700MHz band auction with open access conditions
Nov. 2007; Unveils Android mobile OS via the Open Handset Alliance
Feb. 2008; Withdraws from auction. Leaving spectrum (and conditions) to Verizon and AT&T
Dec. 2009; Confirms "Nexus One" Android-based smart phone
We’ll see if consumers go for this device, and if it becomes a plus or minus for Google. But a modest prediction: This company will continue to disrupt the status quo. As will CE manufacturers who begin incorporating ATSC Mobile/Handheld (M/H) tuners in their mobile devices — something we may hear more about at CES 2010 in early January.