After leaving us months to speculate, Google just announced it will indeed bid in the auction for a piece of the 700 MHz spectrum, filing Dec. 3 with the FCC. The broad reasons are no secret: Google wants to make sure it can freely play in mobile advertising as it develops, especially since cell phones and wireless devices increasingly will become one of the prime portals to the Internet.
But I still think Google must be planning to hook up with partners if and when it wins the bid. Google can’t want to operate a wireless network itself, even less so since it announced its Open Handset Alliance that includes T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Google’s bid will win, either. All the more so because without a partner, it may well have to raise debt to bid enough, since the winning bid could easily be more than its entire cash hoard. We won’t know until next March whether Google has actually won anything. Whatever happens, though, Google’s clearly serious about changing the game in wireless. Om Malik still thinks, as I’ve also said a couple of times, that Google’s continuing to play high-stakes poker. Plenty of hands left to play, though Google won’t be revealing much anymore until the end.