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Wilson Kerr

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Google Voice On The New Google Phone

Did anyone else get the Christmas present of free airport wifi, from Google?

LBS on Ulitzer

Location Based Services on Ulitzer - I am up late January 5th and have been awaiting the first news stories from the big Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES) about the new Google phone, the Nexus One.

I just Googled up the first piece (from 33 minutes ago) from, of all sources, the Montreal Gazette.

In the final few sentences they capture the essence of the real disruptive innovation threat this bold Google Phone poses to business as usual for US Carriers and, I would imagine, people are applauding!

Here is the quote, “Google Voice automatically links certain cellphones with home and business lines, bypassing existing cellular networks. Users must be within range of a wireless Internet connection for it to work. In cities such as Boston and Toronto, where Wi-Fi Internet networks will soon blanket the urban area, the software will allow consumers to say goodbye to monthly cellphone bills entirely.”

Yes, if a Google Phone uses wifi to makes a call to another Google Phone using the integrated Google Voice application, there are no Carriers involved! The term “cell phone” might need to change to “web phone”, literally overnight.

Did anyone else get the Christmas present of free airport wifi, from Google?

I did.

If they can do it for all our airports and people seemed pleased, why not a city or, even more importantly, less affluent rural areas where the population is unlikely to shell out for carrier-sold mobile data plans or high speed web access at home. In these same rural areas businesses tend to be geographically concentrated and mobile advertising can have a compounded effect, especially for local advertisers.

Broadband access is a key here. $7.2 Billion in taxpayer dollars have been allocated toward mapping current coverage and then expanding broadband access to all Americans by filling the gaps. Groups like the New America Foundation are pushing initiatives like their Wireless Future Program to use this $ to link up everyone under the WiMax broadband umbrella. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is the Chairman of their Board.

Non-profit corporations like One Economy are pushing wireless broadband and linking it to economic development and progress through programs like their (The Public Internet Channel).  A vocal proponent of broadband internet access for all (and the same person who signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -with the $7.2 Billion for broadband access) also helped create One Economy’s Public Internet Channel; then Senator Barak Obama. Google will double your contribution to One Economy this Holiday Season, seriously. Heck, a Google Exec is running for the Governorship of Vermont on a platform that, in part, pushes wireless broadband access for all the citizens!

Broadband wireless internet access for all is certainly a good thing for our country and is conveniently also a key to the Google phone puzzle. Brin and Page think big and seem to be well on their way, with plenty of support for broadband for all from those in high places. It’s hard to see the downside of what they want to see happen. I know I cringe every time I get the Verizon bill for the DSL that is going to post this blog in a minute or two.

Bring on the free wifi and the free phone calls that could follow, Google ads and all!

Frustration about the brick walls the Carriers have thrown up all over the LBS world and the high fees they charge is going to help speed Google along and add to the “how to compete with free” dilemma the Carriers (and Apple) now face. As long as people do not mind having Google “learn” their wants and buying habits to shape the ads they see, I am not sure what’s going to stop them. While there will be much hand-wringing about where all that information Google captures is being stored and what its being used for, the promise of a phone that sidesteps draconian Carrier contracts with their outrageous fees for voice and data services will be a powerful siren song for consumers. Few would argue that the enfranchising widespread internet access needed for this to happen is not a common good for everyone.

Google Voice on the new Google Phone running on free (Google-supported?)

WiFi/WiMax is about to blow things wide open.

Might even happen tomorrow!

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More Stories By Wilson Kerr

Wilson has 11+ years experience in the Mobile and Location Based Services (LBS) space. Recently, he became Director Of Business Development and Sales for Unbound Commerce, a Boston-based mobile commerce solution provider. He has deep expertise in the areas of mobile commerce, social media, branded location integration, branded content licensing, and is knowledgeable in a broad range of navigation technologies. Wilson has worked with top tier brands, content providers, device manufacturers, and application developers, including Nokia, Unbound Commerce, Tele Atlas/TomTom, The Travel Channel, Langenscheidt Publishing, Intellistry, Parking In Motion, GPS-POI-US, and others. Wilson is a blogger on all things location-based, edits the LBS topic page on Ulitzer, teaches a Social Media 101 class, and has served as a panelist and speaker at Mobile LBS conferences and networking events. Wilson has held positions in Business Development, Sales/Marketing, and Digital Licensing at The North Face, Outdoor Intelligence, Fishing Hot Spots Maps, Tele Atlas North America/TomTom and, most-recently, Unbound Commerce. Wilson left Tele Atlas to start Location Based Strategy, LLC in 2007. Company Website: Twitter: @WLLK