Skype is one carrier Google can play nicely with

Google's love-hate relationship with the carriers seems to be tilting more a bit to the hate side lately. While Google's business depends on the carriers, and their ability to deliver search users (and their ad clicks) to Google sites, Google's never been all the comfortable with sinking or swimming at the whim of a handful of telecom giants. That's why Google's constantly investigating different end runs around them, like pursuing wireless spectrum, municipal Wi-Fi and especially its strong stand on 'Net neutrality (for the latest salvo there, check out Google's new M-Lab , which lets end users themselves see when carriers block or degrade service to sites and apps). Now, the rumor is that Google is considering purchasing Skype--and that could be just the end run it's been looking for.

As PC World's Danial Ionescu posits, a purchase of Skype from eBay makes sense, not only because cash-crunched eBay hasn't been able to capitalize on its $2.6 billion acquisition of Skype so far, but because Skype's technology dovetails nicely with Google offerings like Google Chat and GrandCentral. But the biggest play could actually be with Android, Google's mobile OS.

Skype just recently rolled out a mobile version of its service specifically for Google's G1 Android phone--but not for the more prevalent Apple iPhone. While to date, the Skype Lite app requires a calling plan, in addition to the data plan that enables its free VoIP calls, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in terms of carrier revenues. Imagine all those new Android phone users paying for a flat-rate data plan--but barely any voice. Could get interesting.

For now, this is all just speculation. But Google definitely sees the mobile Web as its next big revenue-generator--just look at its plays with Chrome, Android and the G1. And once it gets an unlocked Android phone on the market, its options open up even wider. Picture this. All those new mobile users just picking and choosing their carriers based on price/performance alone, and moving from carrier to carrier as they see fit (instead of being locked into multi-year agreements). With Skype, those same users can make and receive calls, no matter what network they're on. So instead of being locked to a carrier network, they instead become locked to Google's software realm of Android, Chrome and Skype. Pretty clever.

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