A Eulogy: Google Helps Verizon, AT&T & T-Mobile with An Honorable Closure for Softcard

Almost 6 weeks ago, LTP was the first to report that Softcard was on it’s deathbed. We provided another update a week later, and then moved on to other more alive topics in the industry.

Google has now completed the last rites by announcing that it’s buying some Softcard assets and has distribution deals with the carriers for Google Wallet (- it had to be 3 separate deals to avoid antitrust scrutiny).

This development calls for a quick eulogy, especially because there is a lot of pent up disappointment in the industry that people have been sharing with me all day, so attempting to verbalize a collective view here. We don’t speak ill of the dead, so this rather long (yet in summary form) perspective will also attempt to remind you of the positive contributions made by Softcard/Isis to the ecosystem.

Firstly, what does this mean for the parties involved? As we had shared earlier in detail, that is a mixed bag:

  • This is a late yet slightly positive win for Google. It gets to preload Google Wallet on all Android devices, at least on those of these 3 investor-carriers, but the others will likely follow. We don’t know exactly how much Google paid, but let’s assume it was tens of millions of dollars and some rev-share. Worth it? Only if they make a few more back! (Note that it won’t cause even a nano-blip in the share price for GOOG one way or another.)
  • For the mobile operators who invested in the Softcard venture, this was yet another expensive failed experiment. It probably makes no material difference to the companies whatsoever, even after spending hundreds of millions of dollars - I don’t remember the executives of any of the companies having to answer a single question regarding Isis/Softcard from Wall street in any analyst call since this joint venture was anno ...

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