Here's an intriguing tidbit courtesy of The Wall Street Journal: that Google and Verizon are on the verge of a deal, whereby Google would be the default search engine for the carrier and the handsets operating on its network, and the two would then split ad revenue.
While the deal isn't done yet, it certainly offers up some interesting scenarios -- and would represent another loss for Microsoft.
It's another move by Google into wireless, and in a big way, above and beyond the company's Android mobile operating system initiatives which some say will start appearing on HTC handsets on the T-Mobile network in the coming couple of months.
Eric Schmidt, Google's CEO, has already said that mobile offers the single best opportunity for Google in the coming years.
And while so many investors will be focused on what the deal could mean for Google and Verizon, there is some action away from the ball worth a closer look.
Not the least of which is the possibility that a deal between the two could bring Google search to Verizon's Web and TV services, notably its FiOS fiber optics TV service.
Most TV systems, from Comcast to DirecTV and DishNetwork, offer various interfaces that control their particular services.
But as the Web and TV blend into a world of endless channels and video content across so many platforms, a Google television interface could be a pretty cool thing, helping consumers navigate an enormous amount of material as easily as they do on computers today. Not to mention the kinds of targeted ads and commercials that could usher in a new era of television advertising.
One other thing: what does a Google/Verizon partnership suggest for more penetration of Google's Android? Between Verizon and Google's influence, maybe this kind of deal spurs more handset makers trying to get on Verizon's network to offer devices using Android. Verizon has already said it would support Android, but a deeper partnership between these two could mean many more handset options for the new Google OS.
For Google, a Verizon partnership makes enormous sense. Yahoo may already be locked up with AT&T, but Google's partnership with Apple and the iPhone already gives Google some nice inroads into the AT&T customer base, especially as iPhone continues to sell extremely well and is an AT&T exclusive in the US. Now, it seems, Google can get its search tentacles onto both networks, in decidedly different ways, and reap the rewards down the road.
The Journal says both sides still need to work out revenue sharing specifics, as well as Google's apparent request to save information from mobile searches so it can better target its ads to customers. That would mean Verizon would have to share with Google some key, valuable, proprietary information that Verizon may not want to part with.
Meantime, Verizon's goal of a single, compelling mobile search platform is an admirable one, and an apparent admission that the company couldn't develop the technology on its own.
Just how important is all this to both Google and Verizon? Consider the stats Nielsen's Mobile Search sent me Friday morning: 50 million U.S. mobile subscribers search for things on their phones; Verizon Wireless subscribers make up 26 percent of the active mobile search market; 61 percent of mobile Internet searchers say they primarily use Google -- ahead of Yahoo, which can claim 18 percent of mobile searches.
This is clearly the next big frontier, and a partnership like this, structured properly, could be a boon to both.
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