Friday, May 15, 2015

Can Google's 'Project Fi' Fly?

Project Fi
Project Fi is considered as Google’s new wireless service. It offers U.S. subscribers an alternative to the traditional carriers. Project Fi has a number of exclusive perks, including a more straightforward billing policy and a cloud-based telephone number.

However, Project Fi also has its limitations, including, most notably, its dependence on Google's own phone, the Nexus 6.

Currently, the Nexus 6 is the only smartphone that works with Project Fi. Owners of Apple's iPhone, and other Android handsets, cannot use it. As an exclusive perk, Project Fi could entice some smartphone buyers to choose a Nexus 6 over other phones, including Apple's iPhone. But most probably they won't.

The Nexus 6, although fairly positively reviewed, is certainly not for everyone. With its 6-inch display, it truly pushes the boundaries between smartphone and tablet. It's quite a bit bigger than both Apple's competing iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung's Galaxy Note 4, and most will likely find it unwieldy.

The popularity of phablets is certainly increasing, but they remain in the overwhelming minority (they represented 21 percent of U.S. smartphone sales in the first quarter, according to recent data from Kantar Worldpanel).

If Google opened its service up to more Android phones, or at least a phone more likely to see mainstream adoption (like Samsung's Galaxy S6), then it could have an effect. Project Fi isn't for everyone – there are no family plans, for example, or unlimited data – but a select group of smartphone buyers may find its base rate data billing and combined network service extremely attractive. Will Google do it?

The search giant’s management has been fairly upfront in terms of its plans. In March, Google's Sundar Pichai said the company has no plans to become a wireless provider "at scale." A few million subscribers may be possible, but tens of millions is unlikely. Sticking to a niche phone like the Nexus 6 would fit with Google's relatively modest ambitions.

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