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Google-T-Mobile speculation spreads over Web

Some say Google buy could lead to free phones for T-Mobile subscribers

February 12, 2010 07:47 AM ET

Computerworld - Web discussion: Google Inc. should buy T-Mobile USA from its German parent and distribute free Nexus One Android-based smartphones to the carrier's 33 million subscribers. The free smartphones, of course, would run location-aware Google mobile ads.

Sound ridiculous? Or not?

Well, that scenario builds on the suggestions of a few serious financial thinkers and is still a fairly hot topic among bloggers and others a week after reports surfaced that T-Mobile may sold or spun out of the parent company.

To be perfectly clear: Google buying T-Mobile is just speculation. In fact, some in the online world are just suggesting the move. Neither company will comment at all about the speculation.

One apparently serious proponent of Google buying T-Mobile is an unnamed contributor to the Web site of consulting firm Gerson Lehman Group's Web site. The contributor is labeled an "expert" whose analysis is his or her own and not that of GLG.

"With Google Voice and now the Nexus One, like it or not, Google is becoming a telecom operator," the GLG analysis says. "I believe Google views the largest U.S. operators as competitors and are obstacles to owning the mobile channel, and if they purchased T-Mobile they would pick up 33 million new Google Voice users."

TmoNews, which calls itself "The unofficial T-Mobile blog" site, took that GLG nugget and added the notion that T-Mobile's 33 million subscribers should get free, Google ad-supported Nexus One smartphones.

"Imagine Google suddenly has 33 million Google Voice customers," wrote TmoNews blog contributor David. "What is to stop them from giving away their phones ad-supported? Would people really go for phones that are free, but inundated with ads every time they make a phone call, or go to browse the web?"

Some TmoNews contributers hated the idea of ad-supported free phones; others liked it. One commenter, Ruben, suggested that ad-supported phones could lower subscriber costs and that a Android third-party developer could "come up with something to block [ads] on Android phones."

Some commenters downplayed any thought of a Google-T-Mobile combination, noting that it would hurt other carriers already supporting Android phones. "Honestly, I do not see Google taking any part of T-Mobile," wrote voiceofreason. "They have too much invested in the Android product with other carriers."

The spector of a Google owning a carrier in addition to all its other products led one commenter, prettyboy85712 to post: "Google+ T-Mobile=Skynet." Skynet is an ominous artificial intelligence in the Terminator film series.

A columnist for PC World, David Coursey, picked up on the general discussion, and linked to a video blog by a reader named Mark Russell who sees the long-term logic of Google buying T-Mobile.

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