Thursday, April 23, 2015

Google's Mobile Launch: It really may be about the bigdata!

Yesterday Google launched "Project Fi" - Google's foray into providing mobile service. As CBC reported the service "will cost $20 US a month plus $10 per gigabyte of data used" (I am still an accountant, trained to find the numbers!). According to the Google blog post on Project Fi, the service will:
  • Find the fastest connection: The service will enable the Google Nexus 6 to switch to the fastest mobile connection, whether it's home/work WiFi, WiFi hot spot, Sprint's network or T-Mobile's network.  
  • Seamless transition between networks: The above service is not just about data, but also voice: when you transition between networks, you can keep on talking without any disruption. 
  • Ties cellphone number to the cloud, not the device: Is this the end of SIM cards? With this service, you can take a call on any device (tablet, laptop, etc.) 
  • Refund for unused data: While implied in the CBC article above, Google has structured the plan to refund the customer for the amount of unused data. 
As I had noted in an earlier blog post, one of the possible reasons that Google is entering into mobile world is to get access to mobile data. Specifically:

"the hidden strategic objective is a big data play: what could Google do with the new data feeds? Sure they already get from being able to correlate the information it already gets from their Android devices. However, they will now be able to analyze this data with the additional data that moves through their MVNO network, such as demographic information and location data. What good is this to Google? In a word: advertising. Advertising is still the biggest source of Google's revenue and adding this pool of data to their reservoir can only add to the bottom line."

Although this project is in "user testing" mode, the video indicates that this is not simply a giant "user acceptance test". Specifically, the announcer says "Getting it in users hands and finding out all the new amazing things we can build that will make your lives easier." (Go to 1:34, if you don't have the 2 minutes to spare)

In other words, the service will actively work with the early adopters to target services that work with the users. Of course these services will be a better way to target ads, such as location based advertising or augmented reality.With respect to the latter, you could use your phone to interact with an augmented reality billboard, store, etc. And Google could turn these numbers back to potential advertisers to demonstrate the effectiveness of such technology. In fact, Google (according to the Verge) invested over half a billion in Magic Leap, an augmented reality firm. But let's see how this rolls out.

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