I knew Google was an outstanding player in the game of Internet information search and ad placement, but little did I know they also excelled in the game of Chess. No, this has nothing to do with April Fools Day—I’m serious, believe me.
Let me explain my point. On March 22nd. I posted an article about the names of the winners and losers of the recently held auction for the FCC 700 MHz wireless spectrum. It was widely commented on the media at that time, that Google was the loser and Verizon and AT&T were the clear winners in the contest. It just wasn’t so.
Google played a brilliant chess game, deliberately losing that contest in order to win the game. This has to be a strategy maneuver more than one business school will study— assuming Google’s maneuvers in the FCC’s 700 MHz auction were all thought-out and well-considered.
Google wanted open cellular networks so it could offer services to anyone, the same way it does on the Internet. Google created a lot of buzz as if it was going to bid on wireless spectrum and go into competition with the established wireless carriers and told the FCC that if it won, Google would keep the networks open. That put pressure on Verizon and AT&T to say they’d open up all their existing cell networks, and Google also influenced the FCC to make the new 700 Mhz spectrum remain open.
In the final analysis, Verizon won the biggest block of licenses, and AT&T won a bunch—but Google didn’t pay a dime and wound up with basically what it wanted. Not many companies can pull off something like that. That’s what I call a brilliant chess strategy. Do Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a direct line with former Bobby Fisher?