Google Won't Be Remaking Telecom As We Knew It

Last Updated Dec 30, 2009 10:53 AM EST

I supposed the idea of Google (GOOG) using its own branded handset (with a widely expected announcement date of January 5) as an opportunity to shake up the mobile telecom business was either too good or daring to come true. But according to information leaked to Gizmodo, it seems as though the telecom industry has fully drawn in another participant. Or else, Google is worried that bucking the trend would have backfired and left the big carriers stepping away from Android-based devices.

The concept would have been a relatively inexpensive handset directly from Google that would be unlocked and running GSM technology, allowing people to move from one service to the next with a switch of a SIM card. That would have kept carriers from two of their big holds on consumers: the inability to freely take a phone to any compatible service provider and the termination fees largely based on the carrier subsidies of hardware.

But Gizmodo received some documents purporting to show the terms, conditions, and prices for the new phone, which will be available with service from T-Mobile. The unsubsidized price will supposedly be $530, which is far above what the unit is likely to cost and certainly not a number supported by mobile advertising. With a 2-year service contract and a $79.99 monthly rate plan from T-Mobile, the cost would be about $180. There's a termination fee for the subsidy amount if you cancel within 120 days unless you return the phone to Google.

Sounds largely like business as usual, which is a disappointment. Wireless telecom is ripe for change and improvement. Guess we'll have to wait for some other corporate giant to take the plunge. Wonder how much of the monthly charges Google will get.

Image via stock.xchng user kgreggain, site standard license.
  • Erik Sherman On Twitter»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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