Is Android Google's Key To The Mobile Ad Market? - InformationWeek

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11/12/2007
06:19 PM
Stephen Wellman
Stephen Wellman
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Is Android Google's Key To The Mobile Ad Market?

While Google didn't mention anything about ads during its Android press call last week, that hasn't stopped everyone from guessing if the search giant will use Android as its key to capturing the mobile ad market.

While Google didn't mention anything about ads during its Android press call last week, that hasn't stopped everyone from guessing if the search giant will use Android as its key to capturing the mobile ad market.I sat recently sat down with Rick Sizemore, chief strategy & business development officer with MultiMedia Intelligence, to discuss Android and the mobile ad market, as well as the other aspects of Android's potential.

Over The Air (OTA): Hello, Rick. Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk. Let's dig in. There was no mention of mobile advertising in last week's Google Android press conference or today's launch of the SDK. Does this mean that Google doesn't plan to put mobile ads on phones running its OS?

Rick Sizemore (RS): I would say no. Android could become the lowest cost handset platform in the world, if Google leverages what it is best at. Google is no longer just a search engine, it has become one of the fastest growing ad agencies in the world.

Advertisers are looking to leverage the over 2 billion mobile subscribers in the world. Now we have a writers strike that could turn out to be a tipping point for advertisers and one of the biggest ad spends, TV. If the package is positioned correctly Android phones could be heavily subsidized by advertisements. It's all based on give and take.

OTA: So far only two carriers, T-Mobile and Sprint, have signed on for Android and only one, T-Mobile, has shown any real enthusiasm for the platform. Can we expect to see other carriers sign up?

RS: Google could become its own carrier using alternative networks like VoIP and Wi-Fi. McDonold's is already in the process of converting its 4000 sites with Wi-Fi. Over 70% of all hotspots are located in the US and Europe. Yes, power is still an issue but Google has to go beyond Apple.

T-Mobile is a head of the curve, but what do they have to loose. The carriers are all talking with Google. Just because AT&T is with Apple doesn't mean that AT&T won't carry an Android phone.

OTA: So far Motorola, Samsung, and HTC have signed on for Android. Will the other big manufacturers, like Nokia and Sony Ericsson, also sign up?

RS: If Android phones come out with the correct mix, I see no reason why Nokia or others would not sign-up.

OTA: Finally, I asked this question several times last week, and I'll give you a chance to share your thoughts with us. Is Google's Android the tipping point for mobile Linux?

RS: It could be the catalyst but Linux still has security issues that need to be addressed. That has always been its weak link. An open OS is a great concept but we have these people out there that still find great joy out of hacking into everything just for bragging rights.

The more established OS's have far better security features, but all of them still have issues when it comes to allowing direct access to the OS. Motorola has opted for Linux and Android could be the perfect platform for them to further their Linux efforts. Regardless, there are lots of embedded OS's out there. Not many people know that Mentor Graphics has an embedded OS in over 350M handsets.

Android has the potential of being the most sophisticated IA/Cellphone/MP3/PDA/MultimediaHS/Swiss Army Knife the industry has ever seen. Having an OS that is open with millions of developers working on applications could produce everything from entertainment applications to medical devices like blood glucose monitors. Bottom line: If Linux can be secured then the answer to your question is yes.

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