Deals are in the works to make Microsoft the default search and advertising provider for Verizon mobile phones, one of the biggest carrier networks in the US. That would mean Redmond replacing Google, something that many users may not be happy about.
A related deal could put Windows Mobile in places that Google Android could be, as well, and the decision will come down to money more than it will quality of service for users. We like a lot of what Microsoft is doing these days, but we prefer the Google search experience and are hopeful for Android-driven innovation. Thus we hope that Microsoft can't pay its way into the center of hundreds of millions of more phones.
Microsoft watchdog blog Liveside summarizes a number of WSJ rumored deals that would add up to a $1billion price tag for the new relationship between Microsoft and Verizon. Our primary concern is that Live.com search is just not as good as Google search, though we'd welcome competition in the increasingly important mobile advertising space.
Dan Frommer reported this summer that Google was working on a deal that would put their search bar on the top of Verizon mobile screens and he reported again this fall on a study that showed Google already has huge dominance in the mobile search market. (Yahoo is a distant second, Microsoft is nowhere to be seen in that study.)
Now the Wall St. Journal says that Microsoft may win a Verizon deal because "the software giant is offering significantly better financial incentives" than Google. As users, we prefer using Google for mobile search.
Mobile OS - Paying to Lock Out Android?
Microsoft is also negotiating a deal to put Windows Mobile software on more Verizon devices, according to the same reports. We like Windows Mobile but would love to see the even more open Google Android get a fair chance on Verizon phones. Of course there are huge sums of money on the line, but it's just one more part of the twisted picture of mobile carrier control to think of what a deal like this could do to the open mobile web that Android is aiming to create.
Get Ready for More Mobile Ads!
Mobile advertising is already big and is only going to get bigger. According to a recent study from mobile social networking company Limbo and GfK Technology:
40 percent of mobile phone users in the U.S., about 100 million people, recalled seeing an advertisement on their phone during 3Q08 (about two-thirds of the ads were text messages; the other one-third were display ads).
We're sure those numbers are only going to increase, and while we could care less who's serving up those ads - ad deals are intimately tied to search deals and in this case would presumably influence mobile Operating System deals as well.
While we honestly admire many of the things that Microsoft is doing of late and have serious concerns about Google's control over the general information universe - we're hoping from an innovation and quality of service perspective to see more Google and less Microsoft on hundreds of millions of phones.