Monday, January 09, 2006

Google the good or google the bad

This editorial is copied from the latest newsletter from Info Economy as is worth reading. For longer artcicle, follow the link.

"Big bad Google
In the technology industry, only the unpredictable is predictable. In 1985, IBM dominated the IT industry and Microsoft barely registered; in 1995, Microsoft, now dominant, was scrabbling to stave off the threat from the newly emerged Netscape; in 2005, it was Google, a company that does not sell computers and gives away almost all of its software, that began to deeply trouble the major players in both the technology and the media industries.
Google grabbed the first technology industry headlines of 2006 with the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it will soon begin selling video content over the Internet. Using the Google search service, visitors will be able to search for commercial video content and then download it for a small fee.
The move means that Google can now include the cable and satellite TV companies, and the innovative video serving companies, such as Apple, among those with whom it is now in direct competition.
And it confirms the fears of these and other media companies that their distribution mechanisms - such as TV channels - may soon be bypassed as viewers simply search the web for the programmes they want and download them.
Google - now with sales of more than $5 billion and growing at nearly 100% a year - is managing to freak almost everyone out. Newspaper and magazine publishers, for example, are losing vast swathes of advertisers to Google, who pick up the visitors on their way to visiting the actual content producer's site. Book publishers are suing Google over its plans to digitise their content and allow some searching and display of these texts without paying royalties; eBay, Amazon and others are worried about Google's move into transaction services; telecom services providers are concerned about Google's move into Voice-over-IP services; Microsoft and Dell are worried by rumours of a Google Cube - a low cost box that searches, finds, displays and plays but does little else.
There is, reportedly, much more to come. Insiders say Google is preparing a big move into local content, taking on the likes of and local newspapers; there are also reports of more advanced, contextual information management services that users will be able to subscribe to. Even governments - including the European Commission - are worried that Google seems to have taken on the role of global archivist and information manager.
The extent to which all these threats will materialise is as yet unclear - but Google is unique in one key respect. Unlike Microsoft, for example, it has no constituency to protect, no installed base that it must service, no network of dealers who must be protected. Only its advertisers need to be kept happy, but there are so many of these, and Google's proposition is so strong, that their fears do not represent a major constraint on Google's expansion. History suggests that the anti-trust authorities are already watching, will no doubt start an investigation in the coming year or two, but will do little or nothing of real consequence.
What happens next? That is almost certainly likely to be the technology industry's biggest discussion point of 2006: the world of Google, competing with Google, living with Google, controlling Google, forecasting Google. The only certainty is that almost all of the analysts will fail to foresee the really next big thing - if it happens at all, that is."

Personally, I love Google - they even host this blog. There is of course a warning here, but their maverick approach and commitment to freedom of information currently shows no real sign of fading.


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