There are reports floating about the tech-blogosphere that Google is going to buy GrandCentral, the mobile startup that gives you a single phone number that can then be directed to any number you choose — or to email, etc; in other words, a single point of mobile contact (of course, this holy grail isn’t available to Canadians, as far as I know). I must admit that the first word that popped into my head when I read the report at TechCrunch was: Dodgeball.

snipshot_e4×3k6uo7w6.jpgRemember Dodgeball? A very interesting mobile 2.0-type of application — way ahead of its time, in fact — that used geo-location as the foundation of a mobile social network, a little like Plazes.com is trying to do with the Web. Fantastic idea, I thought. Google bought the company in 2005, and there was a huge amount of excitement about Google getting into the mobile software arena at that time. And what came of it? Bupkis, as New Yorkers like to say (incidentally, bupkis is a Yiddish word meaning “beans,” but the phrase means something so small as to be worthless). Dodgeball is still around, but not much has happened with it as far as integrating it with anything.

Google also bought Android around the same time, including Andy Rubin — who founded Danger, the company behind the Sidekick — and nothing much has happened there either, at least as far as anyone knows (the founders of Dodgeball recently left Google and made no secret of their frustration). Could all of these assets — and others such as Reqwireless, the Canadian mobile software company that Google bought last year — become something real? Who knows.

There are still lots of rumours floating around about the secret Google phone project, which is reportedly a personal interest of Larry Page’s, and involves Andy Rubin and a host of others on a Sidekick-like device. Of course, others say that’s all bollocks, and the Google phone amounts to nothing more than bundling deals with other phone makers to install mobile versions of Gmail, etc.

About the author

Mathew 2430 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

5 Responses to “Is Google getting serious about mobile?”
  1. Exactly how do you think google maps for mobile, plus gmail app was produced (and don’t forget Goog-411). Obviously those acquisitions had something to do with those (excluding Dodgeball). Also I think the android and reqwireless acquisitions was just part of completing their mobile department. I never understood why the blogosphere believes that every acquisition must lead to a direct product, sometimes it’s just the absorption of technology, and human resources into current development.

  2. Or, that’s a fair point. Thanks for making it.

  3. Google has appeared to be stretched thin for sometime, both in terms of updating their core products, and making use of acquisitions. I wouldn’t think a buy of this type signals anything more than a speculative hedge buy on Google’s part. JMHO.

  4. Yes, you asked some very interesting questions . I asked myself something similar.

    I had hoped Google will get more involved with Apple into mobility project.
    I was very wrong.

    Still, to me, it is unclear the nature of Google Apple partnership.
    From the business perspective and acquisitioins, It could be like ”or” suggested.

    But Google bought Neven Vision which had a iScout project fully developed at that time.

    To me, if Google plans to enter mobile biz then they will somehow use it in their advantage. I hoped it will be integrated into iPhone. It wasn’t.

    Mobile software like iScout could really change mobile advertising ( combination of Maps and Local APIs ). So, I really don’t know how Google plans to roll out mobile strategy in the future.

    I know Micheal Jones and John Hanke spoke much last months about Google plans with Maps and Earth product portfoilo. Jones even said ”iphone is tri-corder of our times”.

    Now we know, it is not.

    By the way, even though iPhone intriduced radical proposition for UI on mobile phones, some handset makers do see it like evolution ( not revolution ) and they are slowly introducing their models.

    Just look at new Sony Ericsson W960i. It’s in the same product range like iPhone and N95.

    It’s very nice designed, touchscreen, multimedia and a tons of power that iPhone lacks.

    Just some thoughts.

    I really do wait time when I’ll walk with phone in my hand, pointing camera on the phone into buliding and getting scanned enviroment ( connecting physical and virtual realm )

    Nokia the other day introduce ( concept ) point&find. That’s exactly how search should be done on mobile phone. With camera as an option, not only textual search.

    The next year will be doable, i guess


  5. Who is the new head of mobile department of Google?

Comments are closed.