Uncommon Wisdom

Oct 30 2007   2:04AM GMT

The wisdom of Google over the top “gPhone”?

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Google is reportedly ready to announce its “gPhone” plan, which is a part of Google’s grand strategy to force wireless operators to open up to over-the-top services. The new phone will reportedly be “open” to the point where applications and services cannot be restricted. This means that if users are prepared to pay the operator’s rate to establish an Internet connection from the phone, they can use any Internet-based service without additional charges or restrictions. This is the model Google hopes to establish in order to promote ad-based content delivery and other Google interests. The problem is that mobile services have very limited capacity, no more than a few megabits per cell. If a lot of over-the-top applications are promoted on the phone, there is a real risk that the process would degrade cell performance, particularly if a lot of users happened to be congregated in one place. There are also significant risks of software leaking personal data, making mobile phones into what might well be the most insecure environment a user could join. It is very difficult to see how the mobile operators would control service quality and security without some way to limit applications and usage on phones, and we are wondering whether Google may have stepped too far too fast here.

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