Colleague Dawn Kawamoto reports today that a U.S. Patent and Trademark office patent application sought by Google and published today would modify the appearance of a browser when that browser is connected to the Internet via a wireless access point.
Patent application No. 20060058019 could set the stage for a technology that Such a technology could, at least in theory allow for front-page branding. I'm thinking that could be, well, Google WiFi with display ads (hmm, American Express? Expedia?) and/or Google AdSense adds burned into the browser rather than just specific landing pages.
Dawn notes that the patent application says that Wi-Fi Internet access would be provided freely to customers in exchange for their agreement to receiving ads on their devices.
"Number 14" looks to be the most revealing of the projected features described in the patent app:
An apparatus comprising: an access point identifier to identify a connection of a client device to a wireless access point; and a content modifier to cause an appearance of a screen presented on the client device to be modified to reflect a brand associated with a provider of the wireless access point.
Sounds to me, like the technology to automatically revise a branded browser window on your notebook to one that Google would want you to see when you cross over into their WiFi territory. No surprise. You kind of got the sense this has been Google's WiFi business plan, anyway. Now comes the patent app to explain the concept and the science behind it.