The real winner here is Google precisely because it lost. Google committed to bidding the minimum $4.6 billion that would trigger open device and open application rules that it had lobbied for, but nobody seriously thought it actually wanted to win the auction. Building out and operating a wireless network is a much lower-margin business than search advertising, and even leasing out the spectrum would have been a distraction. But by putting its $4.6 billion on the table early, it was able to dictate the new rules of the game. Rules that Verizon is now stuck with. All Google really wants are broadband wireless networks that cannot discriminate against Google mobile apps or Android phones no matter who operates them.The new rules aren’t as good as one might have hoped, and now somebody has to make the FCC enforce them, but at least they’re better than the old rules.
— Breaking: FCC Confirms that Big Winner in Spectrum Auction is Verizon. So Why I s Google Smiling? Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch, 20 March 2008