Google Project Fi: Reasons To Love And Hate It - InformationWeek

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4/26/2015
11:06 AM
David Wagner
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Google Project Fi: Reasons To Love And Hate It

Google's Project Fi is an interesting set of contradictions. Here's what we love and hate about it.

7 Weird Wireless Concepts That Just Might Work
7 Weird Wireless Concepts That Just Might Work
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Google's Project Fi wireless service wouldn't be all that noticeable if it wasn't a Google project. In price, it mirrors many smaller wireless carriers. In technology, it is more convenient other offerings, but hardly a game changer. But the fact that Google is doing it means there's something up.

Google experiments a lot, but usually only with things its executives think could move the needle, and Google's needle is pretty hard to move. So I decided to investigate its pros and cons.

Google claims the goal with Project Fi isn't to make money directly, but to drive innovations that the entire wireless industry should adopt.

One of those things it wants to do is facilitate moving seamlessly from multiple public WiFi hotspots for voice and data. I have no doubt it can accomplish this, though I do wonder what that will do to the battery life of my smartphone. These handsome folks don't seem to worry about it.

Google wants to break the "bucket" in which we overpay for cellular data on our smartphones because, to avoid overage charges, we always buy more than we need. Sounds great, but I think it might be those charges that keep me from spending my entire day watching cat videos on my mobile device.

[ Already know you want Fi? You'll need an invitation. Read Google Fi Wireless Service: By Invitation Only, For Now. ]

Google wants to charge me about half of what I pay for my mobile phone service now, but if I don't give Verizon or AT&T my money, I'm just going to give it to the Nigerian Prince who says he needs help moving his money out of the country.

In other words, I'm torn about the whole thing. So I thought I'd break it down as scientifically as possible. I decided to come up with the reasons I love Google Project Fi, and the reasons I hate it. And hopefully it will help me decide. You play along:

Google Fi: Love & Hate

Love: The name is unlikely to make you as hungry as the nicknames for new Android updates.

Hate: I've already heard people pronounce it "fee" and "fi." Tom-A-to. Tom-ahh-to. Let's call the whole thing off.

Love: Can't wait to cancel my Verizon account by saying "Can you hear me now?" as I hang up for the last time.

Hate: If this continues, Google might know me better than the NSA.

Love: Google's quest to simplify wireless calling and offer a clear interface will eventually lead to us all having a single symbol phone number displayed on a white screen. Kind of like what Prince did.

(Image: GageSkidmore via Wikipedia)

(Image: GageSkidmore via Wikipedia)

Hate: The company is still going to try to make us use Google+ for stuff.

Love: When you don't use cellular data, Google will give you some money back.

Hate: When you do use cellular data, Google will give you more ads.

Love: Google says it isn't out to make money but to "drive innovation."

Hate: If Google drives innovation like it drives cars, we might all get motion sickness.

What do you think? Will you become a Google Fi customer anytime soon? Tell me in the comments section below.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
5/3/2015 | 9:57:39 AM
Re: battery
I think the probability for accidents always exist. What we can do is to try our best to minimize it. However, in my humble opinion it's not the obstacle to adopt the new techniques/facilities.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2015 | 11:31:02 PM
Re: battery
> I would be concerned about my child playing outside and a drone falling on her.
> They will malfunction and when they do they can injure and cause accidents that could take lives.

@impactnow:

There were and still are concerns around car and plane safety. We still see accidents. We still risk our lives. But we still use it because benefits outweigh the risks by a fairly big margin.
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
4/30/2015 | 1:00:00 PM
Re: Google vs. NSA
@chris, keep in mind Google is in antitrust deep water in Europe just like MS was. I get your point that MS was certainly a 800 lb gorilla who clubbed it's competition to death back in the day. But I suspect if the market conditions were similar, Google would have no problem crushing it's competition either. Google is not a non profit.  :-)
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
4/29/2015 | 11:49:34 PM
Re: Google Project Fi: Reasons To Love And Hate It
I think the slowness with which Google is rolling out Google Fiber is its "Purple Cow."  It creates such a buzz that by the time Google effectively monetizes it, lots of people will want it.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
4/29/2015 | 11:48:33 PM
Re: google and NSA
I'm not sure; I was of the impression they were not, but I honestly don't remember anymore -- especially because there was so much misinformation about companies cooperating with the NSA when they did not).

I do know that Google was pretty ticked when they found out about how the NSA was pwning their systems to intercept data internationally transmitted.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
4/29/2015 | 11:45:36 PM
Re: Google vs. NSA
Honestly, a big part of the reason I don't trust Google is because of their "philosophies" and commitment to social change.  I don't want to do business with a company that wants to change the world -- because their goal is to then impose a philosophy/lifestyle on others that they may not want. 
( Satircal example here: www.theonion.com/articles/google-announces-plan-to-destroy-all-information-i,1783/
)

Give me a "greedy" company like Amazon any day!  At least they only want my money and use my data for only that purpose -- and will leave me alone otherwise.  ;)
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
4/29/2015 | 4:05:28 PM
google and NSA
Refresh my memory, wasn't Goggle one of the ones that gave the NSA a backdoor pass into certain systems? So Google and the NSA would know the same amount since Google shares information. I like Google as a search engine but I'm not sure I want to give them anymore information.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
4/27/2015 | 8:26:52 PM
Re: Google Project Fi: Reasons To Love And Hate It
I've been a little mystified by Project Fi so far. Rumors of Google breaking into both the (wired) broadband and wireless service markets have been circulating in various forms for years and years. The manifestation of those rumors in broadband, Google Fiber, is supposedly great in terms of service quality, but it's so-called 'expansion' has been so painfully slow that I wonder whether it will ever really light a fire under the entrenched broadband providers like everybody wants it to. It makes one wonder what awesome fiber internet in just a handful of towns was ever really supposed to do in the first place (besides make the rest of us jealous. Can you tell that I'm jealous?). Some of the details here have me fearing that Project Fi might have much the same problem.

Anyone who's a software developer would be happy to tell us that what's going on in the software and on the backend to make this completely seamless for users is anything but simple. It could definitely be a game-changer in terms of what we expect to come standard on our phones in the future, and  that signature Google 'it just works' factor could count for a lot. As for the service itself, though, combining just two existing 4G service providers' networks doesn't exactly scream "revolution". Remember, these are the same providers that everyone supposedly has a problem with.  Those Wi-Fi hotspots all already exist. The software is really the only thing that sets this apart... but it only works on one phone. The starting price is $30/month for unlimited talk and text... but $10/gb for data. To me, that doesn't really sound like the next big thing.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
4/27/2015 | 6:04:27 PM
Re: beginning of the end
@Nasimon- I see why you are saying it is the end of telco 1.0. At the same time, one questions whether Google, can essentialy save the telco industry with software. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
4/27/2015 | 5:23:45 PM
Re: Google vs. NSA
@Joe- I suspect Google knows more about me than the NSA. But as far as I know, Google can't put me in jail or make me disappear. Though, like my previous comment about battery life, I wouldn't be surprised if they were working on that. :)
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