Google + cell phones = Google on steroids

It's hard to impeach the logic of Google's desire to separate the acquisition of cell phones from specific cell phone companies:

“When you go to Best Buy to buy a TV, they don’t ask whether you have cable or satellite,” said Blair Levin, a former F.C.C. official who is now an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Company. “When you buy a computer, they don’t ask what kind of Internet service you have, and the computer can run any application or service. That doesn’t exist in the wireless world. That’s where Google wants to go with this auction.”

Then again, Google is pushing in this direction precisely because it stands to tap a vast and whole new revenue stream:

If Google succeeds with federal regulators, it could change the way millions of Americans use their cellphones and how they connect to the Internet on their wireless devices.

In the Internet giant’s view of the future, consumers would buy a wireless phone at a store, but instead of being forced to use a specific carrier, they would be free to pick any carrier they wanted. Instead of the wireless carrier choosing what software goes on their phones, users would be free to put any software they want on it.

Google believes that the cost of voice calls and data connections to the Internet may be partly subsidized by advertisements brought to users by Google’s powerful online advertising machine.

There might even be a Google phone.

That vision, according to several analysts, is the reason Google said yesterday that it would bid upward of $4.6 billion for a swath of the nation’s airwaves, which are set to be auctioned by the federal government next year — as long as certain conditions are met.

But Google’s efforts to position itself on the side of the consumer are also part of a fierce lobbying battle that pits it and other tech companies against wireless carriers, who oppose conditions that Google wants to set on the winners of the auction. Verizon Wireless has called the conditions “corporate welfare for Google.” And AT&T rejected Google’s latest effort, calling it an “all or nothing ultimatum.” The Federal Communications Commission chairman, Kevin Martin, has come out squarely against two of Google’s four proposed conditions.

The F.C.C.’s rules governing the auction could shape the landscape for the next generation of mobile telephones and wireless Internet use.

If you haven't seen "Googlezon" -- an imaginative (and frighteningly accurate) take on the future of media -- check it out.

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