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Google India deal signals mobile push

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Google may or may not offer its own smartphone in the coming months, but you're sure to see its apps on other mobile devices across the globe. Little more than a week ago, the search giant teamed up with U.S. wireless carrier Sprint to offer Google tools on Sprint's upcoming WiMax portal.Now, Google has laid the groundwork for another mobile push, inking a deal with Bharti Airtel, India's largest private broadband and telephone provider.

Today, Airtel announced that the two companies will bring Google apps - including Google Search, Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Docs & Spreadsheets - to the service provider's wire-line broadband customers. But in the future, the two plan to offer similar apps on mobile phones as well, Business Standard reports.

"Today's alliance provides an platform for Airtel users to enjoy the best possible online experience with customized access to Google's evolving suite of innovative products," said Shailesh Rao, managing director for Google India, referring to the wire-line deal. But then he added that the alliance would soon push Google apps onto Airtel mobile devices.

Rao's comments comes amidst ongoing rumors that Google is building a mobile device of its own, the so-called Gphone. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company had approached wireless operators such as T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless about carrying phones specially-designed for use with Google search, Google email, and a brand new Google web browser.

The Mountain View outfit seems to have its sights set on the mobile ad market. "What's interesting about the ads in the mobile phone is that they are twice as profitable or more than the non-mobile phone ads because they're more personal," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said this past May.

Google has even said it might bid for a portion of the U.S. wireless spectrum due to be auctioned off by the Federal Communications Commission early next year. With a post to its official blog, the company claimed it would pony up $4.6bn for a slice of the "700MHz band" - if the FCC adopted certain open-access rules that would treat the spectrum much like the wired internet.

The FCC did not meet all of Google's criteria, but the company hasn't ruled out a bid entirely.

According to research firm M:Metrics, Google is already the most popular mobile web destination in both the U.S. and the UK. In April, M:Metrics says, 62.48 per cent of U.S. smartphone users visited Google domains, and only 33.54 per cent visited Yahoo!, the next most-popular destination. ®

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