Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Google Adds More Phones to Project Fi

By Evan Niu, CFA - May 30, 2018 at 9:26PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Including a new third-party flagship.

Project Fi has always been one of Alphabet (GOOG 0.14%) (GOOGL -0.06%) subsidiary Google's most interesting concepts, creating a sort of hybrid mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that leveraged multiple wireless networks (T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular) in conjunction with Wi-Fi calling. The biggest shortcoming of Project Fi has always been the paltry number of devices that were officially supported.

Project Fi vowed last summer to add a mid-tier third-party device, which came in the form of the Moto X4 a few months later. The company is now adding three more models to its stable of compatible devices.

Lg G7 ThinQ on its back and side

LG G7 ThinQ. Image source: LG.

Three's company

The new additions are the LG G7 ThinQ, LG V35 ThinQ, and the Moto G6. The Moto G6 will become the new entry-level model, priced at just $199 on Project Fi, while the pair of LG ThinQ phones will be perched at the high end of the pricing spectrum -- $749 for the G7 and a whopping $899 for the V35.

These are meaningful inclusions to Project Fi for a couple of reasons. For starters, Google is expanding the number of third-party devices that can work on Project Fi. Historically, Project Fi has mostly just supported Google's own first-party devices from its Pixel and Nexus families. The aforementioned Moto X4 was the first third-party device. On top of that, the G7 ThinQ is LG's flagship model for 2018 that was just released this month. The V35 ThinQ, announced earlier today, is essentially a spec bump, putting G7 internals into the V30 chassis from last year.

While LG flagship phones won't sell as many units as a Samsung or Apple flagship, adding them to the mix makes Project Fi a viable choice for cellular service for customers that are interested in those LG models. In other words, adding third-party flagships helps make Project Fi more competitive.

Slowly but surely

Google has never officially disclosed how many subscribers Project Fi has, and it's not as if the search giant had any "moonshot" ambitions of disrupting the wireless industry. At the same time, it's unlikely to suffer the same fate as Google's other ISP-related side business, Google Fiber. Google halted the expansion of Google Fiber in the U.S., after poor subscriber growth (estimated at 200,000 in 2016) and massive losses. A big part of that bleeding was Google Fiber being an incredibly capital-intensive bet. All those fiber-optic cables aren't going to lay themselves.

Project Fi, on the other hand, utilizes a much more capital-light model, buying wholesale capacity from prominent network operators and reselling that service under the Project Fi brand. That makes Project Fi relatively more sustainable, even lacking meaningful subscriber growth. Project Fi will likely continue chugging on as a side bet, with incremental improvements -- like adding more supported devices -- along the way.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
$2,254.55 (0.14%) $3.12
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
$2,238.84 (-0.06%) $-1.30

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/29/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.