"Google's strategic imperative is always to drive usage of Google services and applications," said Bill Menezes, an analyst with Gartner. "Their core business is never going to be cellular service provider. Their core mission is to get more people to click on Google ads, to use Google Docs, to watch YouTube videos. This new service plays in perfectly with that."
Menezes agrees with Haven that Project FI will enable Google to gain insights into consumer behaviors — and amass more user data.
"The real question is what is going to be behind the curtain when they start issuing invites and we get a look at the Terms and Conditions," said Menezes. "I figure they'll say they get to track our usage. There won't be an opt-out. If you want to use this service, part of the premium you'll be paying is their access to your usage data. That's just speculation. Maybe they'll have to offer an opt-out, but then who reads the Terms and Conditions? Nobody. People won't even know they can opt out."
That means Google will be able to gather even more data on what people are searching for, what apps they're using and where they are going.
"Google has already been getting that information from people out there using mobile data, but the more people using mobile data, they more info they're getting," added Menezes. "It's like you've been farming 40 acres and you're doubling that to 80. With more data, they can target advertising and better sell you products and all the other things Google does to make money."
The same can be said about Google's Project Loon, which envisions using high-altitude balloons to bring Internet connectivity to remote areas.
More online users means more user info to gather.
Menezes, though, said Google's new service also is about capturing more eyeballs for Google advertisers.
Fi is aimed at people who right now use a rather small amount of cellular data every month. If Google can get more people to use their mobile devices even more, it will drive people onto the mobile web where the company's services are so prominent.
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, noted that if the new service is successful, Google will have yet another foothold in owning the customer online experience.
"Where is Google heading? Anywhere they want to," he said. "Do all of these lines of business mean that Google could become distracted and lose a step to competitors? People have thought so before, but we certainly haven't seen that happen in the past."
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