Can Marissa Mayer Help Improve Mobile Phone User Experiences?

Google VP of Search User Experience is Now VP of Location Services

According to Google, 20% of their searches are local and Marissa Mayer is the VP of Location and Local Services now at Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) responsible for this success. Google receives hundreds of millions of queries per day and controls 97% of mobile paid search which will be a $1 billion business for Google by the end of 2011.

Marissa Mayer's previous was VP of Search and User Experience and did a fantastic job keeping the Google experience simple. I am now very excited that Marissa is now responsible for the location and local services at Google for many reasons. But Marissa has the potential to bring some disruptive change to the telecom industry that needs to upgrade their user experiences for customers. As local search and wireless data services start to overlap more, I can see only one reason why Google Mobile location-based advertising could fail or grow too slowly . . . poor phone reception = failed mobile ads.

Location-based advertising is the future of Google advertising and Google is betting hundreds of millions of dollars on it.  Android will be the smartphone platform for the distribution of content and local ads on smartphones and tablets. We believe Android will ultimately be a huge success but Google needs to enforced stricter standards for wireless reception and coverage.  In order for consumers to have a great experience consuming content on their phones in local places, they must have quality WiFi, 3G, or 4G data connections.  Apple and Google have the power to enforced more quality controls and provide solutions to fixing coverage problems that the carriers fail to provide.  Marissa must be an evangelist for Google promoting the need for open solutions to fix coverage problems such as open spectrum, WiFi, and white space solutions.  There are still hundreds of millions of dead zones in the US and carriers will only fix those which are profitable.

For the last decade, we have been asking ourselves when will wireless reception and network congestion improve throughout major cities.  Dead zones have improved slowly but data congestion is now a huge problem on cellular networks trying to stuff too much data through voice networks that don't scale.  Therefore, we think free or ad-supported WiFi will be as ubiquitous as water in a few years as soon as the incumbent carriers and FCC gets out of the way of innovation.  Entrepreneurs and companies like Google have the power to improve wireless experiences for millions of people but don't have the legal or licensing authority to do it with an unlicensed spectrum.

Google is one of the only companies that have the financial scale to bring disruptive change that is needed by the telecom industry.  Quality consumer experiences require fast data connectivity on 3G, 4G, or WiFi.  However, most businesses do not provide quality WiFi connections or free WiFi to their customers because they are not incentivized to do so.  Google, Apple, and Microsoft are some of the only companies that could provide free WiFi hotspots or ad-supported white spaces.  Location-based advertising is highly dependent on quality 4G coverage that is lacking inside buildings, homes, malls, and restaurants.

So what is the solution to fixing coverage for millions of wireless customers who cannot get heard by their carriers?  Is it femtocellswhite spaces or super WiFi?   Can businesses be empowered to fix coverage in remote areas and inside of buildings?  Time will tell and unfortunately, the FCC is talking about a decade to provide businesses with the white space frequencies in local markets to make this happen.  Soon, we will have a database of what frequencies are available and entrepreneurs can go to work creating new businesses, jobs, and revolutionize and industry. 

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