Google's Committee to Open the Wireless Internet: Whoopee

I can't see room for much advertising on my little cellphone.

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All the breathless wonder at anything Google does. There were a few of us underwhelmed by the news this week that Google had put together an alliance in the wireless industry. It reminds me of when I was in college, where committees are the norm, and some jokesters announced they had formed YAC—yet another committee.

Yes, Google, with its excess cash involved, gives any movement instant credibility. And it's true that using the Internet on a cellphone is utterly frustrating. But somehow, I don't think Google alone can pry open the world's wireless networks.

AT&T, Verizon, and Vodafone have tight control over their cell networks because they paid to build them, without getting government-blessed monopolies. Controlling what consumers can do on their networks is the only way they can see to make money.

Maybe Google will quickly prove that Internet advertising can work as well on cellphones as it does on desktop computers. I'm not so sure. Screens are small on today's handsets, and time is especially short when we're on the move. Where can advertising fit? And it's notable, I think, that most of the biggest wireless carriers in North America and Europe—including AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, and France Telecom—demurred from joining Google's committee, er, alliance.