OnHub: Why Is Google Bothering With A $200 WiFi Router?

Google OnHub WiFi router
Written by Larry Press

If you wonder why Google is bothering with an inexpensive WiFi router, read Larry Press’ analysis on the Google OnHub.

aNewDomain — Google sold $16.023 billion in advertising in the second quarter of 2015. That’s 11 percent more than what was sold in the second quarter of 2014. Google’s bread and butter is advertising — $16 billion in a quarter is a lot of bread.

But another category — “other sales” — grew by 17 percent in the second quarter to $1.704 billion.

“Other sales” constitutes a lot of different products and services. I don’t know how it breaks down. I do know that a chunk of those sales are hardware — devices like the Chromecast, Pixel Chromebook, Nexus smartphone and Nest thermostat.

And now the OnHub. Google has debuted its first WiFi router.

Why OnHub? Why a WiFi router?

google devices onhub

The OnHub will initially be built by TP-Link, a Chinese manufacturer, and ASUS will reportedly have one later this year.

The Chromecast is the only hardware by Google that hits the “cheap” market. The rest are high-end devices, and the OnHub, at $199.99 for a home router, falls right in step.

You might be scratching your head as to why Google would care, or need to release such a pricey WiFi router. I’ve got a few ideas.

First, Google has an eye on the home automation market — controlling things like the Nest thermostat and your TV set. The OnHub has the potential to become a network-connected home automation hub, like the Amazon Echo. Someday it might sit in your living room and listen for commands like “turn on the bedroom lights” and “lock the front door.”

OnHub Echo

That scenario will only work with a microphone, which the OnHub currently lacks. But maybe the ASUS device or OnHub 2.0 will take care of that.

The second strategic advantage is that, since the device is online, Google will be able to dynamically tune it for maximum performance. Google will be able to monitor your network and change OnHub parameters and firmware, which will keep the router in-tune with modern technology.

You’ll also be able to control the network more effectively, for example, giving a streaming video in the den priority over email in your home office.

Being able to improve your WiFi performance is a great feature. I don’t know how many people will find it necessary, but certainly Google enthusiasts will enjoy the option.

Of course, the more time you spend online and the less time you spend waiting for content, the more ads Google will be able to show you. That makes the OnHub WiFi router incredibly strategic — and will likely boost the company’s quarterly advertising and “other sales” income beyond what it just reported.

For aNewDomain, I’m .

Ed: A version of this story ran on Larry Press’ CIS471. Read it here.

All images: Larry Press courtesy Google