There is a lot of buzz lately about Google trying to do too much. I’ve read people comparing Google to Microsoft… and not in a good way.
I don’t care what Google says it’s mission is (especially since my personal experience with Larry Page showed him to be evil). Google’s mission is simple: Gather, analyze and display as much information as possible worldwide. That’s it. Anything that enables Google to do all or part of that makes sense.
How does Google pay for that: AdWords. So beyond the main goal of finding and logically displaying information of any kind, what does Google look at when deciding what services to build and launch?
In the early days, it had to do with fun. Google’s engineers were to take a percentage of their time for pet projects. That gave us Orkut (Google’s failed social network) and other features and services. Today, even if that environment still exists, it seems to be more calculated. [Note: Most large corporations are unable to manage their parts in the way that outsiders think so this is pure conjecture.]
Google seems to launch products that fall into at least one of these groups:
- Gives Google the opportunity to make money through the display of AdWords
- Offers a service that encourages users to return to Google so that they use the Google services that display AdWords.
- Either takes users away from Microsoft and/or Apple or makes it harder for Microsoft and/or Apple to generate revenue.
Too many services?
Bloggers complain that they can’t keep up with all of Google’s new services. I know I can’t but that’s not a bad thing. Google has been on-target lately with everything but the Nexus One. Google started the Android platform to compete against the iPhone (and to a lesser extent the lesser Windows Mobile). Every Android phone was “with Google”. There was no need to be “by Google”. [FTC Disclosure: I am typing this on an HTC Android G1 which my company purchased for me.] Google had control over the platform and some of the best apps. Search on Android was Google, yes, with AdWords. There was no reason for Google to get into the mobile hardware business. The company is having trouble offering support… an issue known to be Google’s Achilles’ Heel to anyone who is a customer.
What’s the Buzz?
If you’re reading this, you probably watched the Web go atwitter with the release of Google Buzz, touted as a Facebook and Twitter killer. It’s everything hindsight tells us Orkut should have been. There are privacy complaints that it too freely uses your connections through Gmail and GTalk. Hey, that’s why I thought Yahoo 360 would kill MySpace years ago: Yahoo knew my IM connections, e-mail address book, groups, news preferences, etc. As history shows, Yahoo missed the boat and is sinking. Google gets it. Again, Google knows how to gather and analyze information.
Google as an ISP
This week Google announced that it was launching a high-speed fiber optic ISP. This is fantastic! OK, how can I go from saying that Google can’t handle customer support for phone sales but I think being an ISP is a good idea?
I hate that Time Warner Cable serves up search results for certain Web errors. I wouldn’t mind Google doing that. There is search in them thar ISPs.
But that’s not the best part. Where Microsoft has always been a hard drive hog building software to fill our drives, Google is a bandwidth hog. Google bought YouTube and wants to stream more to us. Apple has had amazing success selling content and Google might… or it will distribute content with ads.
But wait… there’s more. The big ISPs are fighting Net Neutrality in Congress. Google wants to keep the Internet free. As consumers we pay for ISP service and websites are delivered to us without the website being charged. As a Web entrepreneur, I need that to survive. I pay for my servers but if I get charged per user… YIKES. That’s the system we all (including the telcos) bought into. Google is firing a shot over the bow of the cable and telco giants. Sure these massive companies who regularly underserve and overcharge us want us to pat them on the back for spending $161 billion building out high-speed infrastructure. But it is inferior to Google’s proposed network on all counts, especially speed. Oh, and I bet Google ISP will offer Net Neutrality. This is better money spent than double the amount on lobbying. If you can’t beat ‘em in a political battle, take away their business.
Don’t forget the data!
What’s the cost, you ask? The cost is data. We give Google data in return what appear to be, for the most part, free services. Google knows where I am (or where my phone is) and in return I get traffic data (hey Google Maps is similar to Google Analytics in that respect). I could be a freeloader and just take the free data but I want accurate traffic reporting so I contribute back. Google knows what I search for and sites I go to. Google knows whom I am connected to and then tells me what they are up to, not just on Buzz but in the search results.
Is it worth that price? Only time (and maybe George Orwell) will tell.