Originally Posted by TenoBell
Its not the mobile carriers being lazy. This is a law of physics limitation. There isn't enough physical bandwidth to give everyone unlimited data.
The mobile carriers, at this point, can do a great deal to expand their capabilities and better deal with the bandwidth requirements their networks are currently subject to (be it improving their current networks, working toward future standards, or a combination of those things). We are not yet to a point where the law of physics is the roadblock.
Originally Posted by davesw
Where's the money?
I'm fairly surprised I have to explain this. Google generate its revenue through advertising and its services. Advertising primarily. Google recognizes, appropriately enough, that mobile is where the internet and multimedia consumption is headed, and it is of vital important to their company that they establish themselves in this market before it gets ahead of them. Or more to the point, that they establish themselves as a dominant force on this platform before a potential competitor makes that more challenging. (Google is definitely at the top of their game in this arena).
Every Android customer using Google services is a product which can be sold to other companies. Their information, their eyes, their money. Google searches and Google ads especially, but other Google services play into this as well. By establishing themselves as a strong player in the mobile phone arena they are able to create their own platform for the propagation of their business' primary revenue-producing products.
Android is free and available because that gives Google a competitive edge over other would-be competitors in the market (e.g. Microsoft). Why? Because Google doesn't care about profit from Android in terms of licensing. They care about profits that they might derive from Android users using those devices. Microsoft, by contrast, will seek to make money through licensing and their software products (e.g. Office). Similarities in other areas include iTunes, which is designed more to add value to Apple platforms than to be independently profitable, or an ink jet printer sold at a loss in hopes of recouping great profit through the sale of ink supplies.
And this should come as a surprise to nobody. This is Google's business model over and over again, and it works. They release highly competitive products which are freely available to the consumer (any relation to them being the actual product and a cost associated with that aside) and make money not from licensing that product, but rather by monetizing it in other ways (usually advertising).