Kash Hill has a great post about how important location is to Google’s mobile strategy.
The San Jose Mercury News has gotten its hands on internal Google emails from the summer of 2010 attesting to the importance of location information from phones for the company’s business. The emails reveal that the smartphone info collection became especially necessary for Google after its Street View cars’ collection of Wi-Fi information got it into hot water with privacy advocates and governments around the world. The “Wi-Spy” debacle — where Street View cars were inadvertently sucking up emails and passwords along with Wi-Fi hot spot location information — led Google to vow to stop collection of any Wi-Fi information with its Street View cars, meaning it now relies on smartphones for that mapping
Essentially, because Google no longer uses their fleet of Google street view vehicles to scan local WiFi networks and record their data (following that big mess-up a couple years ago), they now conscript Android users, and their smartphones, as a veritable mapping army to track WiFi hotspots everywhere.