Google wants to talk with you on your mobile

Google is going mobile, but why does it need to create its own browser to do this?

So the rumors were true. Google is getting into mobile. At least, that's what the Wall Street Journal is reporting today.

Mobile makes sense for Google (lots of future money there), but I wish it felt it could get the same effect by investing in an open-source browser, rather than rolling its own:

Now it is drafting specifications for phones that can display all of Google's mobile applications at their best, and it is developing new software to run on them. The company is conducting much of the development work at a facility in Boston, and is working on a sophisticated new Web browser for cellphones, people familiar with the plans say.

The prize for Google: the potential to broker ads on the mobile phones, complementing the huge ad business it has built online. Google even envisions a phone service one day that is free of monthly subscription charges and supported entirely through ad revenue, people familiar with the matter say.

Last year, global spending on mobile-phone advertising, including placement of ads in text messages, Web pages, video and all other content, was only $1.5 billion, according to eMarketer. But that figure is projected to grow to nearly $14 billion by 2011, the market research firm says.

Of course, it's not Google's fault that there isn't a great mobile browser to which Google can contribute. I thought we would have seen more from Mozilla's Minimo browser by now, but there's not so much as a peep from the project.

At least we can count on Google to make it easy. Google doesn't waste a lot of screen real estate. It just needs to make sure it doesn't also waste our time. Its current mobile offerings (beyond its SMS service, which I think is excellent) are not great. I hate the way it force-feeds its "mobilization" renderings of HTML on the user, often to the loss of the very part of the pages I'm trying to access.

But Google has lots of money and lots of intelligence. It should get it right. Maybe this is the way.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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