Rich Tehrani, Om Malik and others have been blogging about the bizarre-sounding but not implausible possibility that Google may purchase beleaguered, lost-at-sea telecom giant SprintNextel.
Makes sense to me except for one big honkin' "but" (that's "but" with one "t"):
Makes sense because:
- Google seems to believe that to really compete against the big, bad net-neutrality-hating broadband monopolists, they really need to have their own spectrum.
- With Sprint, Google will have a fast track to providing its own content (largely via Android) to mobile devices.
- With Sprint, Google would presumably inherit portal-enabling contracts now part of indexed, featured content on SprintNextel phones.
- Google could easily buy SprintNextel whole. As of the time I type this, Google's market cap is $201.79 billion, SprintNextel's is $45.9 billion.
- A Google-owned Sprint might want to at least take a look at the furloughed WiMax project with Clearwire.
- Google buying SprintNextel whole would inject some 53 million subscribers into Google's revenue stream.
That last factor sounds the most exciting, but it also embodies issues that at least to me, makes such an acquisition unwise.
Such a purchase would require so much rejiggering on Google's part to integrate what would be a huge new division- and 50+ million customers into Google's existing processes and services that despite the upside it would be just too big a gulp. For Google, buying and then integrating SprintNextel would be so transformative to Google's core that I am convinced it ain't gonna happen.
Now if we are talking about a small, alliance-facilitating stake, that might be another matter.