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Google Becoming a Web OS Monopoly?  (View post)

or [PersonRank 10]

Thursday, June 8, 2006
14 years ago7,624 views

Google Search is simple in terms of usability, but complex in terms of the value of what it does, and a whole ecosystem that grows around it. Calendar, Spreadsheets, Talk, just don't cut it there(and I doubt they will get there). So what I'm saying is that Google needs either another product like the value Search gives, or significant improvements on what it has.

Can the WebOS they seem to be building, do that? I dunno.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Phillip, you should lock this thread down and point to the other other one. Too many open threads on the same subject

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

"It didn’t do much at all, but it also didn’t do anything annoying". That's very insightful, and that's why many people will use Google's products.

But will Google be able to monetise these products without losing the "didn't do anything annoying" part?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

The other threads are not exactly on this subject so I decided to make this a new one – it's a bit related to the discussion going on here:
techcrunch.com/2006/06/06/goog ...

Garett Rogers [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I don't think Google will ever head down the "monopoly" path – they obviously take a strong stance against "convicted monopolists" and I'm sure they don't want to become one themselves.

Google rarely launches products that are proprietary and are directly intended to "kill" anything else. They seem to side step a lot of problems by creating products that are intended to co-exist and provide interoperability with existing product where they can (spreadsheets is a good example – they chose to position themselves by working "with" excel, not against it.)

If this is how they continue to operate – could Google ever become a monopoly? I'm not 100% sure, but I wouldn't think so.

Mysterius [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I think it's good "armor to a Microsoft counter-attack." Microsoft is just beginning its push against Google. Everything we've seen so far could pale against what Microsoft might try to push after Vista comes out. They're investing billions in developing their online portfolio. Gates and Ballmer themselves are focused on it, and they're even willing to risk upsetting stock holders to push investment through. While Microsoft may never get anywhere with its efforts, the "Googlephobia" prevalent in many areas isn't hurting its chances. Google should be on guard and build up its own resources. "Constant vigilance," Google!

crwth [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

Garett makes a good point about Google not leveraging their market share to exclude competitors.

But Google doesn't necessarily have to do anything evil to become a monopoly. Example: before Google Maps came to Europe, I used a hodgepodge of map services – there were a few nice features, but generally they suffered from crappy interfaces. Along comes Google Maps which has Google's signature features: simple, one line input form (no more tabbing around between address and country and ZIP code); a good, clean interface; and (due to having more servers and having better optimized them) much faster results. As their edge in usability and speed continues to grow with their resources, the question becomes "Why use something other than the Google version of a service?". In that sense, I don't think that Google needs to create new services to continue to grow, so much as they need to find new things to index.

While I haven't been able to keep up with all of the new Google Labs releases, I think that Google's strategy – try out a bunch of ideas and see which ones catch on – is the right one.

Dan Harple [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

I offer up my comments in the spirit of acknowledging Google's huge world-changing footprint, but also, in the context of what is next, for Google, and the Internet-

I think that if you stand back and let the vision revert to 20-20 you have to make the argument that Google is perhaps squandering an incredible opportunity. Why, huge Google fan that I am, do I say this ? It's hard to point facts out in the midst of a lovefest orgy. No one wants to cry out, "Hey, this isn't really sexy, new...or...cool...!" The orgy rolls on. Yet...here are some facts to ponder-

The financial performance Google delivers is staggering. Their cash position is the tool to fuel innovation. You would think that with all the hype about Ph.D.'s and "hiring the best and brightest" you'd see some way-cool innvovation. I make the case that the innovation already occurred and there is an internal creativity crisis. At the risk of massive flames, I assert that the Google apps revealed thus far are either (a) non-innovative retro knock-offs, or, (b) acquired from other non-Google smaller company innovators on the cheap.

Some examples-

GoogleTalk, for instance.

This was a Netscape 3.0 product in 1996. Gee, what was it called ? CoolTalk!
wp.netscape.com/navigator/v3.0 ...

A follow-on version had even more functionality- Netscape Conference, the predecssor to Microsoft's NetMeeting, and Webex.
wp.netscape.com/communicator/c ...

This is "innovative" and forward-thinking ? The bar has not been raised, it's been lowered. The press has proclaimed the innovation! I think that perhaps before people run the genius of Google up the flagpole they should get an historical context.

More examples, The "Communicate, show & share" category-

Blogger- acquired
Calendar- retro, done better by eCal 5 years ago, and others...
Groups- strong case that Yahoo groups is much more functional and easy to use
Picasa- acquired
SketchUp- acquired
Talk- (see above)
Translate- nice, but all Google's ?
orkut- retro

Google Labs-
Surely some good stuff appears in the pipeline here. However, Google Spreadsheets is of little functional value. Picasa for Linux ? I didn't think that a port job to a different OS would ever be considered "Lab" Material, but the "Genius Hype" surrounding Google renders it so. Page Creator ? Why ? It still fits my thesis; non-innovative AND retro.

Finally- To be a "monopoly" in business, you need to take exclusive control or possession of something, in a financial sense. Another thing about a monopoly is that there is really only one credible seller, and many buyers. I make the case that no one would actually "buy" any of this. It's all free, and is mostly utilityware- if you want something better or more powerful, you buy it. Google's "Web OS" isn't one in the first place. They have the opportunity to do it, and, I think they are squandering it.

iZeitgeist [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Before associating Google to any monopolistic positions, one should distinguish a leap distinction between Google and Microsoft.

There is a fundamental difference between the two companies. Microsoft believes in application/centralized centric data models. Google believes in true sharing and distribution of data. Microsoft is stuck in an old paradigm.It will fade away and become relatively unimportant and Google will continue to grow in the direction of distributed computing.

Microsoft is a paranoid, holier than thou company that is struggling to try to control it dominance by forcing users to do run their lives its way not the way those users want to. Google gives people real communication, options and sharing. Microsoft doesn't really believe in communication. It only understands it in one direction.

History is replete with dinosaurs that attempted to control their market share this way.

Long live Google.

Andrew Hitchcock [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Dan Harple, I think they are innovating, just not always where we see it.

I sort of think of Google as a cross between Apple and Dell. They are like Apple in that they release some very intuitive, pretty products that become highly polished over time (like Maps or Gmail). They are like Dell because much of their research and innovation is in the back end, which goes toward reducing operating expenses and lowering costs. Most of Dell's R&D is spent in making a cheaper computer, and Google spends a lot making a cheaper web query.

Andrew

Dan Harple [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

...I probably hate Microsoft as much, if not more than you iZeitgeist, after all they crushed the first big Internet company that I was a part of- Netscape. However, let's not let our religion get in the way of facts-

You see iZeitgeist, your assertion is not quite true. Google firmly controls all the data that they aggregate into the Google grid for monetization purposes by themselves only. They cache it, they convert PDFs to HTML, etc., they do all kinds of stuff with the world's content, without the world's explicit permission. The data is there, you can query it, you just can't use it in any commerical way- only they can. Read the licensing agreements on the Google site. Google is a genius marketing company

I'd suggest that Google is very firmly controlling their market share. With the lock on the world's content....What's more Evil ? Controlling the apps that people run on their computers, or, all the content in the world ?

It's time for the "Do No Evil" mantra to be retired. Maximization of wealth (a Google uber skill set) involves extracting cash from as many sources possible, while concurrently minimizing competitor's access to that same source of cash. That's what the Google licensing agreements accomplish, in a business context. Oh....and, that's what a monopoly does too- except Google's debated monopoly has not much to do with Web OSes, WebApps, WebX.0, etc., it has to do with monetization of other people's content, for advertising monopoly purposes.

As for religion though....I totally agree with you!

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I like Google's innovations, but haven't really found as much value in many services recently. Of course that's always been true to some extent...not everyone is going to use every service. But it seems to be happening a lot more recently. It's fun to try out the betas as they get released (i.e. Spreadsheets), but after the initial fun wears off, I can't find a use for it. The same has been true for me for things like calendar (not useful to me), finance (yahoo is significantly better...not surprising given its age versus google's), page creator, etc.

It's been a while since any of their new services have greatly changed how I do things in the way that Gmail, Groups, Analytics (somewhat recent, I suppose), Personalized home, etc. have.

iZeitgeist [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Dan, I agree on what you said, but how can you imagine the world's most efficient search engine to operate with controlling data. How can they compete and develop innovative solutions if they don't monetize data they way they do. Google is probably the smartest and optimum way a company can make money and manage itself in all human history. When you are good on one side you are evil on another, and you better position yourself in a way that your good will fade your evil. That's how Google runs. There can't be a company that operate on a model anyless evil than Google.

iZeitgeist [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

...most efficient search engine to operate **without** controlling data...

Ruben [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

i think that companies are rewarded by identifying wide spread problems. If google happens to do that well, then kudos to google. People will always be free to exercise their freedom to use any or all parts of Googles software.

I don't see anything wrong with a free Google OS considering the alternatives.

LCaution [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

No, I'm not worried.

1. Search is still in its infancy. (I just wasted almost two days looking for a particular product, finally decided on the one with the closest feature set to what I wanted, then discovered it was out-of-stock/discontinued...all because the search engines – and I tried several – couldn't get deep enough to get that rather vital information.)

2. Google seems to hire people who have good ideas and lets them work on them. Microsoft, OTOH, has never invented anything. Every product it has released, from DOS on up, has been a copy (and usually a lousy copy) of something developed by somebody else. It got where it is because Ballmer is a marketing genius.

3. I much prefer getting a bunch of small products, some of which I may want and use, some of which I may not, rather than some mammoth every 4-5 years full of stuff I don't need.

If we can maintain net-neutrality, I don't think we have to worry about a Google monopoly.

sebah [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

Google monopoly.. google's scarying me.. look at this film about Life with (and without) Google. video.google.com/videoplay?doc ...

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Dan:
> This is "innovative" and forward-thinking ?

When I think of true innovation I think of Google Web Search, Gmail, Google Maps and Google News. When I have to name the most important thing they acquired, I'd say Blogger and DejaNews. As for Book Search and Translator, we'll have to wait and see. However, Calendar, Talk and Spreadsheet are good as "base" products; no huge innovation but clutter-free... good add-on products to a Google OS. It's like Notepad on Windows... Notepad doesn't have to be great for you to use it to write notes. (Technically, Calendar and Spreadsheets are very well-done... just not unique.)

And if Live.com is Microsoft's next-gen web strategy then I think MS is in serious trouble. Sure, it's a lot of bells & whistles... but I see much more reasonable web strategies from Yahoo, especially in their acquisitions.

IZeitgeist, As for Google being totally different from Microsoft; yeah, perhaps, but let's not assume they're the garage company underdogs anymore. Larry and Sergey might have worked in a garage once but even at that time they already had 1 employee and $100,000 funding!

Simon [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I'm a big fan of Google, but I do think they are squeezing the revenue of innovative web companies.

Take Jotspot as an example, if Google were to launch a similar offering it would inevitably be a free service. Who would then pay Jotspot for a similar product?

Sure some die hards might stick with the innovator, but eventually Google would strangle the market through its single sign on and its general brand awareness. Google understand that the battle for Web2.0 has only just begun, applications like Google Spreadsheets may take another 3 to 5 years to get into the mainstream.

By launching now Google give themselve every opportunity to prohibit first mover advantage to smaller companies and gives itself time to develop a rich application set when the WebOS eventually becomes mainstream.

And when WebOS does becomes mainstream Google will hope to be the single provider to the consumer and possibly business as well.

Maybe Google should be finding a more effective way of working and reaching out to the web2.0 community?

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Simon, that's why Jotspot should either provide the service free and use ads to make money, or get acquired by Google :)

iZeitgeist [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Niraj, you couldn't have worded it better that me, I had it on the tip of my tongue!

The Internet (therefore Google) is about a new business model.

iZeitgeist [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

NIraj, I meant to say:

I couldn't have worded it better that you.

(It's the end of the week, my brain is getting tired, I guess I am good for some relaxation and football watching ...)

Simon [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Niraj, if I were the CEO of jotspot I'd share your thoughts.

I also think your comment reinforces the possibility that Google could be a someday soon be a monopoly. A new start-up to compete has to either use a business model already established by Google or be aquired by them.

And the ads that would provide the revenue for companies such as jotspot – would they be provided by Adsense? If so either way Google end up winning.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

> Google seems to hire people who have good ideas and lets them work
> on them. Microsoft, OTOH, has never invented anything.

But what did Google invent?
Web search? Nope, it was there already.
Web mail? No, was there already.
Online maps? Nope.

Lego [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

Here he goes again. Even though they didn´t invent those things they have innovated and changed the way all these things work, both by themselves and together with their other products. Gmail puts other webmail to shame and it´s only getting better, almost weekly.

Lego

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I posted this reply in the context of a Microsoft/ Google comparison. Google innovated a lot, but to say they did so in complete contrast to what Microsoft did I think isn't quite right. Microsoft also innovated. And if you think they stole everything from Apple, others might say Apple stole a lot from Xerox PARC.

Lego [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

I agree. Microsoft has innovated and invented a lot of things. They do though focus their innovation on areas where they are either protecting themselves and some of their cash cows (OS, Office). When they are no longer under threat the innovation disappears and they milk the market. Nowhere is this more visible then in the browser area where they managed to kill the competition and then just stopped further developments. When they are caught they try again and make some improvements which is understandable I guess. The days of Microsoft though I do feel are numbered, atleast the good days (in their opinion) where they were able to make huge profits with little effort. Google is just one small piece of the army that is attacking their bread and butter products.

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