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Over the past 8 weeks or so, it seems the media has gleefully skewered Google for their Google Wallet project and wondered aloud if Google Wallet is already doomed. They have cited personnel moves by project team members (some moved internally, two have left Google), the security problem with rooted phones, and Google’s demand that developers use Google Wallet. The latest sign prognosticators interpret as Google Wallet failure is a rumor that Google is negotiating with Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile to potentially share revenue with them if they support Google Wallet .

I say none of this indicates the project is in trouble. To me, these are typical issues any company would go through trying to launch transformative services, and were expected. As a matter of fact, I believe the project is pretty much on the track we predicted in our report on mobile wallet strategies, published in November .
Google is going to get nowhere in terms of getting Google Wallet on AT&T, Verizon Wireless or T-Mobile until ISIS has had a chance to prove itself somewhat, and Google knows that. In our report I said Google should concentrate on getting as many Google Wallet-friendly devices on the Sprint network that they can in 2012. Sprint and Google announced that as many as 12 new devices would support Google Wallet this year. Google does not need to set the world on fire in terms of user adoption of Google Wallet in 2012, but they do need enough consumers to adopt the Wallet so they can prove the use case.
The smartest thing Google can do for their Wallet project is build an excellent consumer and merchant experience, collect the data on those experiences, and then bring that to the bargaining table when they talk to other wireless carriers, whether that be the ISIS partners or wireless carriers in other markets. The key to Google Wallet success at this stage is not mass adoption, but a frictionless, mistake-free consumer experience. The dumbest thing Google can do for their Wallet project is not get the customer experience right. My own testing of Google Wallet has been a mixed bag – sometimes payments and offers have worked great, other times, not so much. Google Wallet will die a very quick death if that experience doesn’t become 99% great.