In addition to learning what the original Google Android smartphone hardware would look like–the design that predates Google’s and HTC’s G1 which is also known as the world’s first Android phone–we’re also hearing about how Google had once hoped to revolutionize data plans through revelations from its court case against Oracle. According to that information, it appears that Google had at one point hoped to subsidize the costs of data plans and had broached the idea with its premier carrier partner at the time, T-Mobile USA, but as we now know those plans did not go through and Google’s efforts proved to be futile.
If Google had been successful, according to The Verge, the company would give T-Mobile USA back the commission it would have earned for phones sold through Google’s own web store, and thus, customer’s final data plan pricing would be a mere $10 per month, presumably for unlimited data.
However, when the HTC G1 had launched, that device were offered data plans through T-Mobile for between $25 and $35 per month, significantly higher than the proposed rate that Google had hoped for.
Google’s moves in attempting to revolutionize and subsidize data plans are not new and had been speculated before prior to the launch of the HTC G1. Before Google, Apple had also tried to revolutionize data plan pricing, and in 2007, the original iPhone had launched with a $20 unlimited data plan that included 200 SMS and MMS messaging to the package, which was significantly lower than the $30 unlimited pricing without messaging that carrier partner AT&T had offered to rival smartphones, including Palm OS, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile devices at that time. Apple and AT&T had also tried to revolutionize iPad data-only plans as well with contract-free unlimited data for the tablet. Since the early days of the iPhone and iPad, AT&T had migrated to tiered and metered data plan pricing structures for both smartphones and data-only devices.
In addition to Google’s vision for subsidized data plans, the company had anticipated that consumers would only use 15 MB per month to access the company’s own services, which includes Gmail, web search, and others.
Though Google’s attempts may have failed, the idea of subsidized data plan pricing through a third-party is not lost. AT&T had announced recently that it would soon roll out a service that would allow developers and app providers to subsidize the data costs on behalf of a customer. For example, if you sign up for a video streaming service, the video streaming provider–as part of your streaming service with them–may subsidize any or all of the data consumed by that specific app. This way, the data consumed by the app won’t count against a user’s tiered and metered data plan.