Google have unveiled the Google Personalized Home for mobile devices — the mobile version of its personalized Google Home for PCs. Users log in to the Google XHTML site from their mobile phone, and they’re presented with a version of the personalized Google page formatted for the small screen. Gmail, weather, RSS — it’s all there.
Google’s plan is pretty clear (and so is Yahoo’s for that matter) — push mobile operators aside and become the face of the mobile Internet. It’s making deals with handset manufacturers to get its applications bundled onto devices, even get Google buttons on Motorola handsets. But those efforts can be undermined by the carriers themselves, should they choose to disable the features on the handset, or remove them entirely (as some have been known to do).
On first glance, I like that I’m given access to the same content as on my Google PC page (which, I must admit, I’ve only played around with and don’t use regularly). Carriers tend to make their portals separate from the rest of the Internet, eschewing interoperability with the services and sites people normally use for their own. If nothing else, it can create the impression that somehow the Web on your phone isn’t the same as the Web on your PC, and that you’ve got to access different services. This is, of course, in carriers’ best interest, but it’s something that the likes of Google and Yahoo are looking to blow up.
It’s not hard to think that one reason people have only embraced the mobile Internet to a certain degree is because they’ve been forced, to a large part, to adopt one set of sites and services when they’re on the computer, and yet another when they’re on the mobile phone. This isn’t to say that there aren’t things better suited to each medium, or that there are things people will want to access when they’re on their phone that they’d never want to access when they’re on a PC. But that should be the choice of the user, not of the carrier. If the carriers won’t offer open services that integrate with those that people are used to using on the wired Internet, Google will. And it will be the one to gain from it.
BTW, it appears that both the page describing Google Personalized Home and the XHTML personalized site itself may not be available outside the US — if you’re outside the US and have a second, it would be great if you’d drop us a line in the comments verifying or debunking this.
Update: In the comments, Bjørn points out that people outside the US can reach the personalized site on their phones at http://www.google.com/ig/mobile. Thanks Bjørn!