Once at each other’s throats, Google and Verizon Wireless may now be close to a deal that would give mobile subscribers a default starting point for all their searches, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Verizon’s reason for the move is a desire to simplify mobile browsing for users. Today, a user looking for something — new ringtones, news, or a mobile website — will have to go to a different application or search box for each. Letting Google take over and consolidate with one search box will provide a better experience.
But Google looks like the real winner in a potential deal. The company is top dog on the web, but hasn’t yet cornered the mobile search and advertising market, which is still in an early growth stage. Taking over search for Verizon will give Google a small extra stream of revenue for now, but in the long-term the deal could help it translate its dominant position into the mobile market.
That it’s highly interested in working with other companies, even erstwhile enemies, is evident from other recent moves. In February, it inked a deal with Nokia, the world’s biggest handset maker, to put Google search on all its new phones. It has also made tentative forays toward the iPhone, while continuing to develop its own Android mobile platform, which will go onto some phones (as well as other devices).
At some point, Verizon plans to place Google search on the home screen of its phones, according to the WSJ, a deal reminiscent of the way the Firefox web browser works. The idea is revealing of how confident carriers are becoming that heavy web usage on mobile devices is assured for the future — a future that is confirmed, in fact, by Google’s own data.
Medio, a heavily funded Seattle startup that currently handles Verizon’s search, will also be involved in the partnership, receiving a portion of the search revenues. That is likely good news for the company, which an inside source told us has had trouble getting enough search queries to sell ads into.