Google and Vodafone – Off or On?

Mobile Entertainment Vision, quoting an unnamed Vodafone spokesman, says that Google will launch on Vodafone’s portal Live later this year, despite earlier reports that they were actually now considering a white label version of search, following the initial announcement of the partnership.

Rumours were rife at CTIA that this was a dead deal though and¬†was only initiated¬†because Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin and Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, were buddies. Certainly they were at the University of California at roughly the same time, so maybe there’s some truth there.

But partnering Google to handle your mobile search seems to be a little like Little Red Ridinghood inviting the wolf to give her cooking classes. He may be a world class cook, but will you end up on the menu?

This is certainly the view of most people¬†who I know in¬†mobile operators. And while I’m still not convinced that mobile search will be quite as big as everyone seems to think it will be, there’s no question that giving Google power over the phone’s screen is at least going to dilute the power and dominance of the operator’s brand.

Anyway, it would be nice to know if this engagement is on again, or if Vodafone will abandon their bride before the happy couple reach the alter. Anyone know what’s actually happening? On or off the record -¬†I’d love to know.

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