A very curious quote cropped up in Ben Ames' coverage of the rumored Google phone. Jeff Kagan, a wireless and telecommunications industry analyst, raised the following point of criticism about Google's rumored ambition to deliver the device and the service for free and expecting for it be paid for by ad revenue.
Here's what he said. (The underlined bit is this quote is my emphasis.) "The average adult who can afford a cell phone is not going to want to listen to ads. So this is mainly for teenagers, twenty-somethings, high schoolers or people who can't afford a phone."
I wonder if Kagan got wind of part of Google's plan that I missed, because frankly, when I first contemplated a Google phone back in March, it never, ever occurred to me that Google would force users of the device to listen to droning voice ads between phone calls. And I still don't see that happening. I'd bet that if Google were to try pulling something like that, the phone would indeed be a flop.
But the Google phone isn't going to just be a "phone" in the old-school sense of the word (i.e. a portable device capable for just making calls). Check out the Wall Street Journal's description. It's going to be a wireless mobile device that happens to have voice capabilities. "The specifications Google has laid out for devices suggest that manufacturers include cameras for photo and video, and built-in Wi-Fi technology ...", the WSJ reports. Google is also asking for a slide-out keyboard, according to the Journal.
It likely won't be as flashy as, say, the iPhone. People will be able talk on it, of course, but more important, they'll use it for checking e-mail, performing Web searches, getting directions, and all the other things you can do from a browser on a mobile device.
And, of course, while you're using all those browser-based services, you'll have ads delivered to your screen, just as you do when you access those services on your desktop PC. And that's where Google will rake in the revenue, I'm wagering; not through annoying and disruptive droning voice ads between phone calls.
Seriously, think about. When has Google ever been outright disruptive with its ads? I think one of reasons the company's search business is so successful is that it's not ridiculously in-your-face with advertisements. Rather, it delivers ads quietly and intelligently, targeting them with pinpoint precision at users as they use Google search, GMail, and other Google services.
Google's a smart company. It knows the search game. Heck, it practically runs the search game. And it knows that mobile search is the next lucrative frontier. What better way to stake a huge claim then to practically (or literally) hand out free mobile devices and services to the masses, giving them access to all those free services it already offers, then watch the ad clicks and dollars roll in?