Having climbed to the top of the pack in online advertising (for now), Google is moving on to ads on cell phones, which it may just serve up through its own Google-branded handsets. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is in talks with major cell phone service providers to offer a Google phone, which would roll all of Google’s services into one device, and possibly even operate on free, ad-supported service.
Although it’s clear that Google hasn’t managed to firm anything up yet, multiple sources cited in the Journal’s article seem to confirm that the company is seriously courting providers and hardware manufacturers with the idea. The plan is to develop a Google-branded phone in cooperation with one or more company, then offer it to providers with a revenue-splitting agreement on advertising pushed through the phones.
The handsets won’t be as sophisticated or revolutionary as iPhones, according to those who have seen prototypes. They will, however, come with features like cameras for video and photos, Wi-Fi access, 3G, and possibly even GPS, making them comparable to a high-end Blackberry.
The company could face major hurdles as it attempts to nudge in an on the cell phone advertising market. Although he wouldn’t comment specifically on the Google phone, Verizon Chief Executive Lowell McAdam said in an earlier interview that his company declined to integrate more closely with Google because of the ad revenue they demanded for it. "What this really boils down to is a battle for the mobile ad dollar," he said.
Even if Google manages to crack the companies it needs cooperation from, sources say consumers shouldn’t expect a Google phone until next year, at the very earliest.
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