The Emerging Mobile Middleman

Google is complaining that mobile phone operators are asking them to stop allowing people to access Google Mobile Maps by phone. Google's service gives interactive maps, search results, satellite images and very detailed directions to local businesses. The mobile operators are thus becoming the middleman between Internet companies and the public. The reason is obvious. Mobile companies offer their own detailed direction programs -- for a monthly fee. And what happens when VoIP becomes widely available on mobile phones -- in other words, cheaper service on phones with existing phone service through Internet access. The move to watch is that of the mobile middleman. A showdown could be coming between the gate keeper of mobile information and everyone's bad boy -- the Internet. The same Internet that is dragging record labels into the future, diverting youthful radio listeners to online, killing off newspapers and making satellite radio technology somehow seem antiquated little more than ten years after operators won approval to launch. But this battle -- the one between mobile operators and Internet giants and gadflies alike is the real heavyweight fight. If anyone can stop progress, it would be a utility. But the reverse could be true. The Googles of this new age could force mobile companies to cut their rates to compete with VoIP. And content deals can always be done. The mobile future is now unless, of course, mobile middlemen get in the way.