Is Google Now a Phone Company?

Back on August 9, the Google Public Policy Blog announced A joint policy proposal for an open Internet, co-authored by Google’s Alan Davidson, and Verizon Executive VP Tom Tauke. It was a little surprising seeing Google and Verizon join together to compromise about Net Neutrality.

The proposal from the two companies set two different sets of rules when it comes to broadband access and mobile access to the Web.

Earlier today, The FCC adopted a set of regulations regarding Net Neutrality, and the policy proposal from Google and Verizon seems to have played a part in how the new regulations will work. The regulation of Net Neutrality is a topic worth expanding upon, but I was more curious at this point about the relationship between Google and Verizon.

I’m not sure what role the following might have played in Google’s stance on Net Neutrality, but I found it pretty interesting. Yesterday, I wrote about how Google had acquired a number of phone related patents from Myriad Group. On November 8, 2010, the US Patent and Trademark office recorded the assignment of 84 granted and pending patent applications from Verizon Patent and Licensing Inc, to Google.

I’m not going to go into a detailed examination of each of the pending and granted patents – with 84 of them, that would be somewhat overwhelming. But they do cover a wide range of services and methods that a phone company might use to offer services to the public.

With the dramatic increase of people connecting to the web via phones, it makes sense that Google would begin to focus more on the mobile web.

What do you think?

Patent Applications

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35 thoughts on “Is Google Now a Phone Company?”

  1. That’s interesting that you mentioned that. Google has phones out, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t be considered as a phone company.

  2. Maybe it should also regulated like a utility. Haha!
    I was in marketing at Novell when Eric Schmidt had his brief cameo. He’d walk by my office with his publicist and I’d pine for his publicist’s salary!
    Hi goal then was to go pure IP. IP as the development platform. Now the Internet is the development platform moving forward. This might be a object model that can be put on their portfolio of products delivered on IP. The browser does seem to be becoming the new OS. Does that make sense? I’m still on my first cup of coffee, so forgive me if I seem to be confused.
    I think their business model is to become the MS of the Internet.

  3. For me, Google is a search giant and not a phone company. Its ruling the internet space keeping Yahoo and Microsoft far too behind.

    Regards,
    Jenny

  4. I have always admired Google’s ability to think 2 and 3 steps ahead of everybody. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were making a big push to try to incorporate an improved Google Voice within their Gmail and Corporate Email systems. Essentially, they could offer a pretty darn comprehensive business package with email, docs, phone, fax, and who knows what else.

    Another interesting thought would be for them to include some sort of text and voice service that will be incorporated into their latest social media strategy. (5th or 6th try at social media by my count)

  5. Bill; to put this into perspective, do you know what ownership stakes each of Verizon and Google hold in this joint venture or proposed joint venture?

  6. Hi Pat,

    Google’s focus has often been on information, and making information accessible. In the past, that seems to have been something that they’ve been doing with a focus upon desktop computers, but I think that’s being shifted to thinking about new applications and processes and approaches starting on mobile devices first.

  7. Hi Andrew

    I agree. An interview that Techcrunch wrote about this past April included this paragraph:

    Schmidt also underscored a theme that’s grown increasingly apparent over the last few years: the future of computing is mobile. Schmidt says that businesses should have their best developers working on their mobile applications. He also says that the interoperability and security of mobile devices will be key factors for large businesses a few years down the road.

  8. Hi Fernando,

    Google does seem to have a growing presence in Washington DC these days, and I’ve seen a lot of Craig’s List posts seeking more employees to work in that area to bring Google Technology to governments. Not a direct way to influence by getting involved in the development of regulations, but definitely a way to bring Google to the attention of Government decision makers. Here’s a snippet from one of those job postings:

    As the Enterprise Marketing Manager, you will be responsible for marketing Google’s Enterprise products to state & local government agencies across the country, educating political leaders and government employees about these innovative Google products, and generating new leads for the Enterprise sales teams. You will support both Google Enterprise’s Direct and Inside sales teams in the US state and local government market. You will own the development and management of a comprehensive program of lead generation activities, and create the necessary messaging and collateral required to support your marketing campaigns.

  9. Hi kristinn,

    Interesting, from what I’ve heard of the new FCC regulations, direct line broadband would be regulated much more like a telecom service, or utility. Wireless would be much less regulated.

    I think more cloud based applications and devices that rely upon storage on the web will bring us a web-based operating system in the future.

  10. Hi Jenny,

    There’s no denying that Google is and likely will remain a leader in search in the future. But it seems like they’ve been shifting a lot of focus to mobile devices like phones and laptops, to local search, and to location-based services. A lot of the patents that they’ve been developing or acquiring seem to focus upon phone and wireless technology. I don’t think we’ll see Google shift away from proving information, but I do think they’re envisioning that happening more and more on mobile devices.

  11. Hi Mike,

    Those are good points. I know Google is letting people make computer to phone calls through Gmail these days, and I expect that’s an experience that they can make much richer in the future, especially with some of the approaches described in many of the patents above.

    Both Google’s enterprise offerings, and another try at social could potentially benefit. I’m wondering if Google delayed the launch of Google Me (as their next social offering was rumored to be called), to see how some of the pieces above might fit.

  12. Hi Matthew,

    I’m not sure that I see what’s happening between Google and Verizon as a joint venture, at least officially.

    It’s possible that Google spent a considerable amount of money to acquire licenses to use the patents listed above. We may get an idea about that with the next financial statement report to shareholders from Google.

    I could see the possibility that Google and Verizon made strong efforts to come up with a compromise regarding Net Neutrality as part of building a ongoing relationship that might lead to a sharing of technology like this

  13. Google is “media company”. Google will take whatever is possible to get advertising market. Press, mobile, tv, radio… and all this stuff. Funny how this “user friendly” company faild in china a “BIG” way. Cheers… C

  14. It’s convergence. They have Search Engine, then SaaS (Gmail,Gdoc, etc.) and now they’re jumping in Device section which I think it’s a smartmove. How people will access their Search Engine and SaaS? only on Laptop? I don’t think so. Now that most of their products are getting closer to the users via the Device which is mobile.

  15. I used to work as SEO and Marcom Manager for a high-tech company here in Israel that developed speech-to-text technology. The firm’s goal, just like that of everyone, was to sell to Google. (Though investment later fell through, and we were laid off.)

    The selling point, at least according to the owners, was that Google Voice could integrate the system with a Google Account and store what every user was saying. Then, Google could use this data — along with that from Gmail, organic searches, and others — to deliver Google Ads that were targeted to individuals even more accurately. Say all of your phone calls revolve around baseball (Go Red Sox!) — then, I would imagine that more baseball ads would appear interspersed in the delivered ads.

    I didn’t know enough about the exact technology to know whether this is even feasible, but it does sound a little scary — a little too much like Big Brother. Still, since Google always accumulates data to improve its advertising platforms (its main source of revenue), such a thought would not be surprising.

    Also, this is my first time visiting this blog — definitely an addition to my RSS feed! Great stuff.

  16. It seems to me Google could become Big Brother, which would be the ultimate source of knowledge. Google may be on it’s way to achieving world domination one company and idea at a time. When someone asks me which search engine I use, I don’t say, Bing, Yahoo, or Ask.com, I say Google! Google is just that powerful and their search engine is easier to navigate compared to the others. The Google and Verizon connection has me wondering, I guess we will have to wait and see how that pans out.

  17. Google is always beyond the cusp on thinking outside the box. It makes sense that in the mobile age, they dominate the mobile web as well. There’s definitely room for mobile web browsing competition and creativity and Google knows that. What I’m wondering is what term$ were created between Google and Verizon.

  18. Google is most likely buying these patents for defensive purposes – if they have patents in their arsenal, they can use these to threaten to sue anyone who sues people in the Android ecosystem.

    They might also be picking up patents which cover Android before anyone else does.

  19. Hi Carlos,

    Google is tranforming into a media company. I’m not sure that they would have considered themselves one a decade ago, but they’ve been branching out to mobile, TV, and even attempted to dabble in print and radio in the past.

    I’m not completely convinced that their problems in China are completely attributable to how user friendy they may be or not. There were other issues, including politics, that scramble the picture a bit.

  20. Hi Abbasi,

    Interesting thoughts. The movement to devices may be a natural progression. I guess in the same way, Google Maps to navigation systems to driverless cars is also a natural progression. :)

  21. Hi Samuel

    Thank you for sharing your experience, though I wish it had a happier ending for you. I’ve seen some similar concepts in some of Google’s patents, and there is an element to them that is somewhat worrisome.

    Thanks for your kind words about my blog – I’ll look forward to seeing you around.

  22. Hi DeWayne,

    Google does seem to be branching out in a number of ways. I’m interested in seeing how Google and Verizon might work together in the future.

  23. Hi Kevin,

    Google does seem to try to move into areas where they believe they can be innovative. The present and anticipated growth of the mobile web makes it a target that I’m not sure that Google could ignore.

  24. Hi Ian,

    I definitely believe that there was a defensive element to the licensing/acquisition of many of these patents. I am wondering how many of them were acquired at the urging of technologists, and how many were chosen at the urging of Google’s legal team.

  25. Hi Usman,

    I’m wondering if we will get an idea of how much it cost for Google to be using the technology described in these patents. I expect it to be a substantial sum, and I’m hoping we learn more in Google’s next financial statement. This is a pretty substantial investment in technology.

  26. I have seen how fast is Android. I will buy soon a Google Phone, lucky that Google phone is now available in Cambodia,

    I think this is the right direction since the demand increased a lot.

  27. Hi Santel,

    Google is expanding it’s offerings across the globe, with increased demand for android enabled phones. It looks like the strategy of letting hardware developers use Android without a licensing fee is paying off for them.

  28. It sounds like Google is a phone company but I would worry about your privacy using Google. I don’t think most people know who they really are behind the scenes. In general Google will dominate anything it touches like Google Tv, etc.

  29. Hi Gary,

    What I found really interesting here was Google’s seeming entrance into buying up as many hardware related patents as possible, and from a fairly mature company like Verizon, which might not necessarily be seen as a “partner” to Google.

    Of course we should be concerned with privacy issues with any company that might collect personal data for us, and provide us with communications channels such as email or phone services. We seem to be quite willing to do that with our phone calls – why does it seem like phone service providers are scrutinized publicly on the Web the way that search engines are?

  30. What constitues a monopoly.

    Surely google are becoming that? The more SEO I do, the more I dislike google and the more I read about some of their practices.

    As Gary says, you don’t know what or who are behind google….

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