Update: The original source of the images is now saying these are fake.
What you see above is every telecom exec’s nightmare. Google is stepping up the mobile phone value chain once again and making its own SIMs. But it isn’t as drastic as it may seem.
Google Employees in Spain are getting a surprise SIM card with their Nexus S phones these days. What you see above and below is Google’s own SIM card which allows the ‘sorta search monopolist’ to become a MVNO in Spain. While Google doesn’t own its own towers or infrastructure (it buys bulk data from the local telecoms – in this case Telefonica, Vodafone, etc.), the move allows Google to control more of the phone experience. For instance, it can pay one price for bulk data rather than on a per phone basis. It can also dictate which carriers the phones pull in data from based on quality of service or price. Roaming internationally can also be controlled and owned as well.
We’ve heard Spain is first but more European locals will start seeing these soon. MVNOs have gone the way of the Dodo in the US with Sprint buying Virgin and Boost and others departing the market. Perhaps if these do well for employees in Spain, Google will consider bringing back the MVNO to the US for not only its employees, but also Android customers.
Will the telecoms continue to allow Google to climb up the value-chain like this unabated? via Spanish forums. More images below, including a picture of a phone on the “Google_Es” Network: