Thursday, September 22, 2005

Free Google Wi-Fi sponsored by local ads?

Activity in San Francisco Bay Area and several pages on the Google homepage indicate, that Google is going into Wi-Fi in one form or another. Some analysts suggest that this is far from their original search focus and potentially also a quite expensive area to get into. No doubt, it will take some investments, but I don't necessarily see Wi-Fi moving Google away from search. Search is in Google's core, and I believe in everything that management considers. Just like Gmail, where the whole business model is serving up relevant ads next to your personal emails. Yes, mail didn't initially have much to do with search, but when Google crawls your messages and serves ads next to it, they are using their search technology - capitalizing on both the technology and the sponsored links bought by advertisers.

In my opinion Google won't necessarily be planning Wi-Fi spots to compete for the dollars, that people pay for access. More likely Google is planning to integrate their local search efforts - one of the new big areas of search - and more than anything else their local search ads. This could turn out to be such a rich revenue stream for Google, that they will offer the Wi-Fi access for free.

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