When you're as big as Google, everything you do draws a lot of attention, even when it might not be that big a deal.
The Internet search giant's unveiling of a free municipal Wi-Fi network in its hometown of Mountain View, Calif., is dominating news headlines this morning. (At the time of this posting, it's the number-two item on the Google News Service Sci-Tech channel.)
Speculation across the Web is that Google may be testing the waters as an ISP; actually, that's just a extension of the "dark fiber" theory on Google's ultimate plans, which has been in circulation for quite some time.
Some analysts have gone so far as to say that the move is simply another ploy for Google to sell more online advertising, which still accounts for almost all of the company's revenues. More advertising, we suppose, in Mountain View, Calif. -- for the handful of people there who aren't already plugged in wherever they go.
Our thoughts? Google was founded by and is run by a bunch of tech enthusiasts. In fact, the company has been criticized of late for being too enamored of nifty Web tech (Writely, Google Spreadsheets) in its recent product extensions.
Maybe the reported $1 million Google spent on the project is just a little bit of local goodwill/PR work. Or maybe, as a Google spokesperson has said, it just wants a real-world lab to observe roaming users' behavior as it dreams up portable expressions of its Web platform. For a company with $2.5 billion in quarterly revenues, a $1 million skunk works has little more critical mass than running an online customer survey would have for the typical SMB.
It's just not that big a deal.