Sprint, Google deal for WiMax mobile web
New York, July 27, 2007
Google Inc has made its biggest move yet on the US mobile Web market by signing a deal with Sprint Nextel Corp that positions the Internet company to build services to run on Sprint's planned WiMAX high-speed wireless network.
The two companies said Google will provide its Internet search service for a Web portal that Sprint is developing for the new WiMAX network. The gateway to various Web services will be ready in April 2008.
The deal is Google's closest alliance with a major US mobile service provider.
While Google is the world's leading provider of Web search and has agreements with large mobile providers in Asia and Europe, analysts say it has lagged Yahoo Inc. in the US wireless market.
'This seems to be a bigger deal than what (Google's) done in the past, more comprehensive,' said Pacific Crest analyst Steve Weinstein, who expects wireless services to be a 'very material driver' for Google by late 2008 and early 2009.
Google has said wireless is key to growth and its strategy of selling Internet advertising.
Besides the deal with Sprint, Google is also lobbying the US government to open up the wireless market and has expressed interest in bidding for airwaves at an upcoming government auction. It said it will spend a minimum of $4.6 billion if regulators push operators to open their networks.
The Sprint deal is expected to boost Web access over the new WiMAX network and expand use of Google's search and communications services on mobile devices.
Sprint said it would combine technology for detecting user location with Google tools including e-mail and chat.
For example, users could use Google to search for a pizzeria without having to enter a ZIP code, or have the phone automatically broadcast their whereabouts to friends when they are setting up a meeting using Google Talk instant chat service or e-mail on their phones.
Sprint's chief technology officer Barry West said Sprint would not charge users for Google services, which will be supported by search-related advertising. Google and Sprint plan to share revenue from advertising.
'If you think of the Internet you automatically think of Google,' West said. 'Obviously having a powerful partner on the Internet helps us become synonymous with the mobile Internet.'
Google already offers mobile Web search services through major wireless providers outside the United States, including Vodafone Group Plc, China Mobile, and Japan's KDDI. - Reuters