Google Unplugged: gPhone Or Not, Google's Going Mobile

Google's apps are smartphone ready, it's partnering with cellular carriers, and the company may bid on wireless spectrum. Connect the dots.

But don't underestimate Google's willingness to make bold moves--bid on spectrum, develop a mobile operating system, design a smartphone--that could shake up this inhibited market. "Google will gladly lose money on a phone to be involved in this market, if it means getting more eyeballs in front of their services," says analyst Carmi Levy at AR Communications.

Google mobile apps often make their way into enterprises from the bottom up. At Lafayette Federal Credit Union, some employees have begun using Google Maps on their BlackBerrys without oversight from the IT department. "They can download and use such resources as they see fit," VP of IT John Straub says by e-mail.

That's one way to do it, albeit potentially risky. IT departments may want to manage employee adoption of Google's mobile toolset, establishing policies for usage and security.

Just how IT administrators will actually manage Google's mobile software is another question. While Google Apps comes with basic management and update tools, the company hasn't put out a manage-ment console for its mobile applications, nor is it saying when one might become available. As Google goes mobile, the cellular industry, smartphone market, and customers are all flying with it--by the seat of their pants.