Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in his address to the World Mobile Congress on Tuesday that Google's future is not to compete with mobile operators. Instead, he pointed primarily to search advertising as Google's focus. But notably, Schmidt also mentioned Google's interest in enterprise software to deflect operator's concerns that the search giant wants to compete with them.
Schmidt's address to the world's leading mobile executives came as Google treads a delicate path. Google entered the mobile market in January. Instead of working through carriers, Google decided to sell its Nexus One directly to consumers. Last week, Google announced it would be offering Internet connectivity to select communities. That's another sore point for operators who wonder if Google is planning to enter the networking business.
Talking about the enterprise makes it seem like Google's business is entirely different than that of mobile operators. How could a focus on enterprise applications corollate to complex mobile networks? Well, who would have ever imagined that Google would be offering free WiFi to communities or 1 Gigabit connections to 50,000 homes?
Google plans to offer high-speed fiber to select communities is in part designed to pressure operators to offer high speed Internet access. The idea being that the ISP's could offer far faster Internet access than they do now.
Google knows that super high speed access would mean people spending more time online, more time using Google Apps in a far more fluid manner. It would mean that Google's investment in cloud computing would have considerable additional returns.
Google is also in favor of net neutrality. Mobile operators and ISP's are in favor of tiered networks. A tiered network could disrupt Google's cloud computing business and its enterprise strategy. If the U.S. Congress permitted tiered networks it would force Google to decide if it really should be reliant on the carriers. The carriers and the mobile operators could in effect dictate the price and the type of content in the packets traveling over the network. If that happened, Google would have to consider building out its own network.
Schmidt's reference to the enterprise is not ground shaking news. But it is noteworthy in its mention at an event as significant as the World Mobile Congress. Google may have offered an olive branch to the mobile operators but in the background are a number of issues that could have ramifications for Google's strategy to be the king of the enterprise.