Google is entering the wireless service business, where it will compete with AT&T, Verizon and many others. Why should we care?
Google’s new service is called Project Fi. In true Google marketing fashion, you can only sign up for the service now if 1) they accept your application to their Early User program and 2) you own a Google Nexus 6 phone.
If you qualify, two main benefits may attract you to sign up. First, Google’s service is really a combination of many services. It provides mobile connectivity on either the Sprint or T-Mobile service, plus Wi-Fi connectivity on 1,000,000 open-access hotspots. The software scans the available services to see which is fastest and connects you to that.
Second, the service is inexpensive. For $20 per month, a user gets unlimited phone and text. Then the user pays $10 for each gigabit of data, or portion thereof, used each month. Leftover bandwidth may be refunded. This pricing plan compares favorably to the big carriers, although there are bargain carriers that charge about the same.
Will consumers go for this? In the short run, probably not. Google’s Nexus 6 phone has not been a big seller. Most of the Android business is going to Samsung, and we all know about the iPhone. Google says it may expand the service to other phones in the future, but it hasn’t said when. Since having the Nexus 6 is a prerequisite for getting Project Fi, early uptake is likely to be small.
The really big question, however, is how much users care about speed. Are they so unhappy with their current mobile speeds that they’re looking for an alternative? And where are these 1,000,000 free hotspots, anyway?
Moreover, how much difference does the price difference make, given that the bargain carriers who already offer low prices haven’t taken over the market?
Oh, and did we mention that some analysts estimate the new Project Fi technology may use up your phone’s battery 20 percent quicker?
File this product under “Wait and See.”