Verizon, Google Near a Mobile Search Deal?

Reports in The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and backed up by sources close to both companies, Verizon Wireless is getting close to inking a deal with Google that would make Google the default search engine on Verizon mobile phones in exchange for a portion of advertising revenue generated from searches by Verizon customers.

The two companies have been talking about a deal since at least late 2007, and the companies are still reportedly working out central points of an agreement, including the degree to which Google can save information about Verizon customers’ search behaviors. Reports say Verizon and Google have spoken about the possibility of offering other Google based services as default features on Verizon phones, but it’s not known whether anything besides Internet search is on the table at the moment. Google offers a number of mobile and location-based services, including email, mapping, and instant messaging services.

Google and Verizon have crossed swords on other fronts while this deal has been in negotiation. A year ago, Google famously committed $4.6 billion to the FCC’s auction of 700MHz spectrum licenses in an effort to get the FCC to commit to open network principles; however, after the auction was said and done (and Google, as expected, didn’t walk away with any licenses) Google challenged Verizon’s commitment to the FCC’s open access requirements in the 700 MHz blocks it won. Verizon’s response was basically a quizzical look, and a pledged it would adhere to the FCC requirements. And then Verizon accused Google of trying to change the rules of a game after it had been played.

No financial terms of the deal have been disclosed, nor is it known whether access to Verizon’s networks for phones based on Google’s Android platform are part of the negotiations.

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