My Photo

Ordering Information

Tomi on Twitter is @tomiahonen

  • Follow Tomi on Twitter as @tomiahonen
    Follow Tomi's Twitterfloods on all matters mobile, tech and media. Tomi has over 8,000 followers and was rated by Forbes as the most influential writer on mobile related topics

Book Tomi T Ahonen to Speak at Your Event

  • Contact Tomi T Ahonen for Speaking and Consulting Events
    Please write email to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com and indicate "Speaking Event" or "Consulting Work" or "Expert Witness" or whatever type of work you would like to offer. Tomi works regularly on all continents

Tomi on Video including his TED Talk

  • Tomi on Video including his TED Talk
    See Tomi on video from several recent keynote presentations and interviews, including his TED Talk in Hong Kong about Augmented Reality as the 8th Mass Media


Blog powered by Typepad

« Quick Posts 2 - Microsoft Results Show Worsening Misery at Lumia Unit - Market Share All-Time Record Low: Now only 2.3% | Main | Quick Posts 4 - Other News in the Smartphone Bloodbath: Samsung, LG, Sony, Xiaomi »

April 24, 2015




I can see how Google Fi will hurt in the USA and maybe a few other countries with ridiculously high carrier margins. But in Europe, the rates are pretty competitive against what Google is asking in the US. China is a no-go area for Google, and South America seems to be quite competitive.

So I cannot really see how Google would be able to make headway by rolling this out outside of the US.

But maybe it is just a ploy to break open the closed market in the US. It might be a good way to increase market share of Android in the US.


"Why would Google now threaten this amazing growth angering its retail channel? "

A hunch: Google money making machine is ad space, and it has some trouble being as successful in mobile as in desktop ads.

In mobile, Google can collect and tabulate data to segment target markets only when end-users rely upon Google services.

By becoming an operator, Google can grab information about every Internet service end-users access (for instance even the sites they access directly, without mediation through Google search), and therefore fine-tune its ad-space selling algorithms, and discover opportunities to insert or design new types of ads in the mobile world.

From that perspective, the income from traffic fees or subscriptions is secondary to Google.

Crun Kykd

We'll get to see a real accounting of where the power lies in the handset-carrier relationship. Things change over time, technologies, customer perception, true core competencies. Detroit saw this with electric cars and self-driving tech, they aren't all that. Carriers will learn it with roaming tech across vendors and WiFi/LTE. New well-financed entrants can be successful.



"But maybe it is just a ploy to break open the closed market in the US. It might be a good way to increase market share of Android in the US."

I'd say that's the plan here. Something needs to happen to bring the US carrier market into the present.

I also agree that in more competetive markets they'd face an uphill battle because they have to deal with far more agile competition than the crusty US market has to offer. And my guess is that they'd keep their hands off Europe anyway to avoid getting into more trouble with the regulators.


Do carriers even care about SMS as a revenue source anymore? Here in the US the carriers give away unlimited voice and texts with every new mobile share plan. They make their money on tiered data now. If anything, it's Google's wi-fi move that would have them angry, but US consumers, according to the Pew study, are already pretty savvy about switching to wi-fi. We have them in sports stadiums, coffee shops, some subway stations, and even some municipalities are setting them up. Google's move will just accelerate that. Plus, they did get the buy-in from T-Mobile and Sprint. Since Google's move is US-only for now, I don't see how they will upset the carriers too much given the business model here.


I also wondered what was in it for T-Mobile and Sprint. I have a hunch that Deutsche Telekom and Softbank may view this as a potential exit strategy for their US business. As you point out, FI makes no sense for them and should be viewed as a threat. I wonder if they aren't thinking that potentially this may lead to the sale of T-Mobile/Sprint US to Google and allow them to exit the business if they so choose. Both companies have reasons to exit the US market and a sale to AT&T or Verizon wouldn't pass regulatory hurdles.

Also, Virgin Canada was a failure (for Virgin) and is now wholly owned by BCE; this is hardly surprising in the Canadian market which is thoroughly dominated by BCE, Rogers and Telus.



"FI makes no sense for them and should be viewed as a threat"

Maybe they are just smart and see where things are heading.
It wouldn't be the first time that companies fought to the bitter end to defend their obsolete business model - and in the end they still lost because change was inevitable.


@Richard, Sprint is in a vicious cycle where they are losing customers because their network is bad in many areas, which is costing them the funds necessary to complete their network upgrades. Where they have made the upgrades, their network is actually pretty good. So they definitely have an incentive to get whatever business they can from Google. T-Mobile has been buying market share through a price war (which has started to subside), but has a parent who wants to exit the U.S. market. The regulators have already made it clear they don't want any of the 4 major carriers merging with each other, so I doubt Google could buy both, and they might not want just T-Mobile or Sprint individually.

abdul muis


Let's talk about some 'fact' first.

T-Mobile also have a Voice over WiFi/internet.

AT&T also have a similar technology

Google Voice

Google has a Skype competing technology that already in BILLIONS of android handset, and available for iOS device. It's called Hangout

President Obama use hangout

Last Google Fi....


I think Google Voice is MORE THREATENING to carrier than (Google) Project Fi. With Google Voice, anyone in US can apply a US phone number that can be called from fixed line and use their carrier as A TRULLY DUMB pipe. They can also use this number while on other countries. ex. you, Tomi, went to US, got the Google Voice number, and when go back to HK, you still have the US number without the need to spend a dime to maintain the phone number.

With (Google) Project Fi, the customer MUST pay Google, and CAN'T use their existing carrier as the dumb pipe. Thus, Google is JUST another (MNVO) carrier. But T-Mo & AT&T, and many carrier around the world already use this 'KIND' of tech too. So, I don't see where's google are aiming with this tech.

Talking about skype, Google also own a competing product, called Hangout, even Obama use it on a regular basis. It's even better than skype, as hangout also suited for live broadcasting (skype were not suited for live broadcast).

So, in recap. I think Google Fi doesn't make Google MORE EVIL / THREATENING to the carrier. Google already have a product that can be more dangerous to carrier.

abdul muis


But what about Apple Virtual Sim, who's toe will apple step? The apple user or the carrier?

Let just start with the statement first. I don't know anything about Apple Virtual SIM, and what I'm gonna say is just based on assumption.

If Apple gonna use it to protect the carrier from user Jailbreaking and Carrier Unlocking, then apple user is the one that's gonna be hurt. But iSheep will still buy it and praise it. Is it gonna hurt the apple-carrier relationship?? NO.

I also read a rumors that Apple gonna use a control on which carrier user can use. ex. if I want to travel to France, I could go to Apple store, and BUY a france virtual sim card before I go there. In this case carrier will be hurt.

As I said... I don't know anything about it, So I wonder, do the skype/Fi is more threatening compared to this virtual sim?


@abdul, for now the Apple (physical) SIM is limited to the iPad and is optional. Verizon has opted out, and selecting AT&T permanently locks the SIM to that network (you can freely choose between Sprint and T-Mobile plans, though). My guess is that Apple may offer an Apple SIM in the next unlocked iPhone, and that they will make a push for a virtual SIM to be adopted as an industry standard. It makes a lot of sense. SIM cards take up space and their functionality can be duplicated by the secure elements in other chips already in mobile devices. If it is an industry standard regulators or standard setters can address lock-in concerns by mandating that they be open to all networks.


Samsung is Korean. I was extremely surprised that Samsung didn't have a non-virtual MVNO in Korea. LG does.

Firefox has Firefox Hello. Don't know if it works in the mobile version but it is something that everybody expects that they will bring to their mobile browser.

Every triple play ISP also seems to bring out an Android app so you can use your mobile phone as land-line phone.


Hi Tomi,

I agree with other posters here that this is not an evil move by Google. We should look at Google Fi in the US the same way we look at Google Fiber. Fiber was not successful for Google in driving tons of new subscribers away from Cable Operators. But Fiber has been very successful in prodding Cable/Telco Operators that the old Operator business of $50/month for 50MB/month is outdated. Fiber has light a fire under AT&T, Cox and even Comcast has recently thrown its hat into the "1GB ring." Fiber's whole goal was to get US Broadband Operators to invest in faster pipes so US consumers would see more Google ads and use more Google services. Seems like a pretty solid idea.

I believe that Google doesn't want to fully engage with US Wireless Operators, it just wants to force them to adapt their business models. Look for example at what Cablevision did with their WiFi first calling plan. Another commentor mentioned how US Operators (plus Apple) are all gravitating towards WiFi first calling. Many wireless customers get their wireless data at home via their Cable/Telco Operator and they get their wireless data at work/school from employer/school. So if you only need LTE data when you're in between home and work/school, do you really need to pay Wireless Operator $50-$60/month for that? It seems like Wireless Operators are charging a lot for what is essentially LTE roaming when you're in-between WiFi networks. As a consumer, I don't think that network service is worth $50-$60/month and I think more competition for wireless services is great for consumers.

Also, If you look at how heavily Cable/Telco Operators have invested in WiFi, it starts to make more sense why Google would launch Google Fi. LTE is no longer the only game in town for wireless services and WiFi is going to be increasingly important.


I've been finding this to be too entertaining:
A discussion about what makes Tizen hard to develop for, started by an employee of Samsung.

Of course, the real WTF is Jeff Atwood's Discourse forum system. So trendy, but so difficult to use.


"A discussion about what makes Tizen hard to develop for, started by an employee of Samsung."

You can easily notice that the person posting that is microsoft astroturfer who wants us to believe that Tizen will not be a threat to Microsoft but...


Not my comment above. This is the real baron99 ..but the fake baron99 is correct that NO ONE WANTS A WINDOWS PHONE!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Available for Consulting and Speakerships

  • Available for Consulting & Speaking
    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Helsinki but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

Tomi's eBooks on Mobile Pearls

  • Pearls Vol 1: Mobile Advertising
    Tomi's first eBook is 171 pages with 50 case studies of real cases of mobile advertising and marketing in 19 countries on four continents. See this link for the only place where you can order the eBook for download

Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009

  • Tomi Ahonen Almanac 2009
    A comprehensive statistical review of the total mobile industry, in 171 pages, has 70 tables and charts, and fits on your smartphone to carry in your pocket every day.

Alan's Third Book: No Straight Lines

Tomi's Fave Twitterati