Google, The Carrier

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The internet is designed to replace both legacy voice calling networks, which currently is the cellular (mobile) and PSTN (landline) platforms that millions and millions Americans use to make telephone calls. By Patricia Handschiegel (Founder & CEO, 9)

Google officially entered the carrier arena today.

For those who may not click through, it’s Google’s new internet offering, which it has rolled out in Kansas. According to the Associated Press, the company is intending to push digital television, which is television delivered via the internet platform versus broadcast TV platform. The internet has always been designed to do this since its original creation, and has been able to deliver it in a meaningful way (aka, no quality issues, delays, etc.) since roughly 2005. That had more to do with the internet platform itself than anything, as it wasn’t technologically able to do it well prior to this, even though it has always been designed to (and somewhat could) before 2005.

What’s fascinating is that according to one article I had read, I believe it said that signing up for the service in Kansas City would include a tablet PC device.

Before thinking that Google is going to kill the carriers, it only owns infrastructure in Kansas City at the moment, while Verizon, AT&T and others have it all over the country with very large customer bases and nearly identical offerings. What the internet as a platform can do has nothing to do with Google, Facebook, Twitter, or anyone else, and everything to do with the internet itself. So what one company that owns infrastructure can do, such as Google, all can, and will.

Especially now. As Google tries to cut in on the broadcast TV platform’s position, it will likely mean carriers — who have already been pushing ‘digital TV’ to customers for some time — will likely step up their efforts as well.

Where they (the legacy carriers) are likely going to be at an advantage is that they already have established relationships with high level, large draw media and TV companies, who may very likely skirt away from Google’s efforts, at least for now. That means that Google may have a tougher road ahead to do what it wants to do with television. It’ll all depend, but you can be the company will need to spend — and likely spend a lot — to try to make a position.

And let’s not forget that Google’s main business and position is currently on everybody else’s internet infrastructure. So, any efforts to pipe its TV content to legacy users could get messy, as now Google directly competes with the backbone it currently relies on. You can be sure the Google PR train will be marching hard in Washington and the media in the coming years to try to keep net neutrality fair (or fair enough).

It’ll be interesting to see what brands do, and what legacy carriers and other platform players might do to keep brands where they want them. It doesn’t likely position Google over companies like Microsoft or Apple, as both have relationships with carriers to work around the issue with not owning internet infrastructure.

Meanwhile what is most fascinating about this isn’t actually Google’s position as a carrier in information delivery, but as one in communications, such as voice calls. Google’s in a much better position to take advantage of this position than any, and it’s a bigger (or as big of a) slice and market. The internet is designed to replace both legacy voice calling networks, which currently is the cellular (mobile) and PSTN (landline) platforms that millions and millions Americans use to make telephone calls.

Where Google is in a decent position is not with its legacy ad business, but in the massive number of users its acquired over the past few years in its combined offerings of Google+ and Gmail. Say what you want about Google+ being a failure to other social networks. Its creation very likely had nothing to do with social networking, and everything to do with the above.

Because in order to compete with the carriers, who boast users of 70 and 80 million people across the country, Google needed to have as much customer as it could get.

Though it’ll be interesting to see how a company that has virtually automated its business as Google has, providing very little to no customer service to its users, will adapt to the potential of having to now provide this to customers.

And of course, there are plenty of things that Google has tried to do that have failed.

While its early to say whether or not Google will succeed in its move into the carrier market, it is a gutsy move and could be very smart if done well. Not to mention Google owns satellite internet offerings, which have obstacles today but who knows where technology might go. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. Watch for lots of Google moves, including in lots of new areas, to come.

This post was originally posted at 9 blog.

About the guest blogger: Patricia Handschiegel is Founder and CEO of 9, a multi-platform media company making things in internet, media, entertainment business, including digital magazine Condiment. She is a serial media and internet entrepreneur with a background in internet telecom engineering and information delivery/communications platform business. She founded social media pioneer Stylediary in 2004, which grew to more than 72 countries before being acquired in 2007.