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Google Fi: A Retail Opportunity?

If Google is serious about building a large subscriber base for its low-price Fi MVNO service, the technology giant will consider expanding distribution through online and brick-and-mortar retailers to supplement its direct-to-consumer sales.

In doing so, Google would follow the business model of Amazon, which sells its Kindle devices through its web store as well as through retailers.

(TWICE’s May 4 print edition features a story analyzing whether Google  wants to build a large subscriber base or simply nudge carriers into offering less expensive cellular plans and improved cellular service. That, in turn, would boost data usage and potentially boost Google’s revenues from mobile advertising on Android phones.)

To compete aggressively with carrier services, Google will need consumer electronics stores and other retail outlets because it’s unlikely to get distribution through carrier stores or through stores exclusive with a single carrier. Carrier stores just don’t sell competing wireless services, not even those of the MVNOs that, like Google, use their networks to offer service under their own brand name. (Google’s Fi uses a combination of T-Mobile, Sprint and Wi-Fi networks to deliver voice and data service).

Consumer electronics retailers would love to get behind a highly visible brand, and like the MVNO services and unlocked phones that some of them already sell, Fi would help them differentiate their offerings from the thousands of carrier stores with which they compete.

What say you, Google?