Will Google Target The Mass Market Rather Than The Elite?

What will the media do when Google (NSDQ: GOOG) finally brings out its mobile phone (or whatever it has been working on)? There’ll be nothing on the horizon that will “truly disrupt the wireless industry” and we’ll have to fall back to bitching about carriers… Brian Caulfield has a bit of an opinion piece at Forbes which starts out fun by relegating the iPhone along with efforts by Palm (NSDQ: PALM) and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) as “well, just phones”. He then summarizes all the gPhone rumors quite effectively: “The phone promises to fuse open-source software with Google’s applications on a high-end handset. Rubin’s team is building custom mobile-phone software atop the free Linux operating system that will bind the phone tightly to Google’s online applications and advertising services, sources say. Software from another Google acquisition, Skia, will put a slick user interface on the package. Finally, Google will build all that software into a smart phone built by Taiwanese handset specialist HTC, according to a source familiar with the matter.” He then goes on to argue that Google may find its customer base in emerging economies rather than the high-end targeted towards elite corporate users, because Google is after eyeballs for its ad-network rather than getting revenue from licenses or gadgets. However, Google’s applications (e-mail, maps, even search) require at least a mid-range handset, so it’s not going to go into the mass market. However, if it can manage to get the package going cheaper than comparable phones it should find a ready market if the carriers realise its better to get people using data even if it is outside the carrier portal than using cheap phones with limited possibilities for value added services.