Since reports first emerged in January that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) was working on launching an MVNO service with Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS), there has been no shortage of speculation on what such a partnership might look like. Yet none of the companies involved have commented publicly--and so the speculation continues.
Disruptive Wireless analyst Dean Bubley noted that the search giant could try to launch "a unique form of pricing rather than standard 'monthly plans'--perhaps part-subsidized by itself or others, perhaps customized on a per-user basis." He also wrote that a "freemium" model could also work and "could be adjusted based on the balance of Wi-Fi vs. cellular access, whether the user tended to consume advertising-rich apps, and so on."
"All that said, unless this is just another Google small-scale experiment, it would be extremely tough for it to scale to millions or tens of millions of users, without huge investments in sales and support infrastructure," Bubley wrote.
Notably, Bubley wrote that perhaps a likelier option is that Google's service, like Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) SIM card for its newest iPads, will be a tablet-oriented service rather than a smartphone-based one. "This gets around two problems--firstly, it doesn't need a conventional numbered 'phone service.' and secondly it can be pitched to the operator partners as a way of adding extra cellular devices to the market, rather than competing for market share of existing ones. Data-only connections also don't come with lots of the traditional perceptual baggage of being a 'monthly plan.'" Post