HelloMaGoogle10-07 - Hello, Ma Google Hello, Ma Google by...

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Hello, Ma Google Hello, Ma Google by Kevin Maney October 2007 Issue The worst news ever for cell-phone carriers. Google could be your phone company. This possibility begins with the broadcast signals that once carried hokey sitcoms (Green Acres! The Munsters!) to TV rabbit ears. Those signals are about to become useless as sets go digital and the government prepares to auction off the old analog UHF spectrum in January. The odds-on favorite to win is Google, which has conditionally offered to meet the $4.6 billion opening bid. The auction will take the price much higher. Google won’t say what it would do with the spectrum, but it’s expected to turn its acquisition into a nationwide wireless internet, thereby pureeing existing telecom business models . It’s easy to imagine Google offering a free, ad-based wireless voice- and-data service in exchange for, say, your turning on your phone’s G.P.S. location tracker so the company can serve you ads for the Krispy Kreme shop you’re about to pass. What’s another hunk of privacy lost if it saves you some dough? Teacher’s note: Creating a phone network gives Google the opportunity to organize and distribute information. When they do that, they create another opportunity to sell advertising to those who want to reach people who use that information on that network network. They can reach more people wherever they are because more people own and take mobile phones with them than carry lap tops or computers. As Greg Butz, a senior vice president at cable operator Comcast, which is also eyeing the UHF spectrum, notes, “Customers are looking for someone to step in and redefine why they’re spending $120 a month on wireless.” Teacher’s note: If the wireless companies did a great job of taking care of their customers, they would not leave a huge opening for Google. The fact is that most people are not “in love with their cell phone provider so this leaves a very big position for Google. Google can offer a free phone service, and people are more forgiving about the quality of a service when it is free than when they are paying $50 per month for the same lousy service. Of course, if Google is a little better, everyone will use Google.
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Just a whiff of such a future has created consternation in one of the most important business sectors on the planet. The big
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HelloMaGoogle10-07 - Hello, Ma Google Hello, Ma Google by...

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