There’s some potentially huge news popping up out of Spain, as reports suggest that Google is doling out its own SIM cards to employees in what could be the first step to it launching its own carrier in the country.
Technically, this would be what’s known as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator or an MVNO, as Google would likely purchase airtime from a carrier at a wholesale rate and then resell it under its own branding. We’ve seen this model burn out in the United States, as Disney, ESPN, Helio and Virgin Mobile all tried the MVNO game before either dying or selling to a major carrier.
All of these MVNOs failed for a variety of reasons: some (Disney, ESPN) were just dumb ideas and others suffered from high prices or lack of high-quality handsets. Google has the potential to control the mobile experience end-to-end, so it’s chances of succeeding as a mobile operator would be much higher than nearly any other entity.