Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 8th Sep 2010 18:53 UTC
Google Hold on to your security blanket, people, because Google is rolling out a pretty big change to its search engine. Not too long ago the internet was in a shock because Google rolled out a new feature that allowed you to pick a background image for the Google home page, just like Microsoft's Bing. Google went a lot further today, and has launched Google Instant, adding search-before-you-type results to the Google home page.
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RE: Comment by Tony Swash
by Neolander on Thu 9th Sep 2010 07:44 UTC in reply to "Comment by Tony Swash"
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

Instant may be a cool thing but that is a daft thing to say.

Of course Google have to innovate, if they didn't they will be dead in a few short years, just like any other player in the tech game/info/media game.

In order to see how daft that is just insert another company's name (ooh - lets be provocative and say Apple and its market lead with iPod or even iPhone as an example) and then make that comment. Do you see how silly it is?

Up to this point, we agree. This sentence is just crap, it looks like it's from a google marketting guy (like the whole article, in fact, in my opinion. Heavily disliked it). But then you say this...

Not only do Google have to innovate but their existing business model is actually very vulnerable in the medium term because it is a one trick pony. If online advertising accessed from the desktop goes down the pan (and it could with the spread of ad blockers, curated computing and the new mobile platforms) then Google goes with it.

And then, I think you don't understand what the strength of a monopoly like Google's or Apple's really is. Be it only because you overestimate the market share of ad blockers and mobile devices.

Google are everywhere. And, what's important, almost everyone on the Internet relies on them for something. Because of that, if they went in financial trouble, it's the whole internet that risks going ten years backwards, and through donations alone they could get enough money to come back on the saddle. That is, if they managed to find a bank who's not ready to lend them some money. Though one.

Example of things which rely on Google :
-All websites which rely on advertising as their main funding, since Google bought most of the ad market (be it for desktop or mobile web, since they are now both the same).
-A lot of open-source projects which rely on Google Code and the GSoC. All businesses and individuals which rely on those open-source solutions to get some work done.
-All individuals who neglect their bookmark collection "thanks" to google search. Due to its popularity, it has yet-to-be-matched result relevance.
-All GMail users (critical role), all Youtube users (compulsive behavior). Youtube user base goes well beyond its main page and covers a lot of websites who can't afford video storage themselves.
-And think about all those handsets makers who don't have enough development resources to code everything on their platform and rely on Google for some development work (OS or apps).

They know this at Google hence their rather spastic decision to break their alliance with Apple because of fear of a super dominant Apple shutting them out of the mobile ad market and to embark on the ill-thought out (from point of view of Google's best interest) Android adventure.

Again, this looks like a simplistic interpretation. As far as I know, Google Maps is still in the main menu of any brand new iPhone, I wonder if users can even delete it. And with Google Voice, the company showed that they can even beat the App Store's infamous policy. Managing to create an actually useful application from crappy web standard that offer inexistent support for developers in an impressive demonstration of raw firepower.

Google are doing two things in parallel in the mobile space. First trying to be present on the highest possible amount of mobile platforms (as a default home page or search engine, as a GMail app, as a YouTube app...). Second by preventing Apple from getting a market share that's too high. Because as I already stated before, market share is firepower, and Google want to have the biggest guns in negotiations. With a large enough market share, Apple could impose a much higher control on their platform, and this is what google wants to avoid.

This is, in my opinion, the goal of Google Android : keeping the iPhone market share small enough, no matter the price.

All they may do with Android is create another stick to beat themselves - see this for example:

http://www.asymco.com/2010/09/08/google-vs-android-part-iv/

and this comment

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2010/09/07/buchanan-bing

Again, are you sure of it ? In the end, it's market share that matters. Every single Android handset still included a GMail and a Maps app, last time I checked. And though carriers can get in Google's way a bit, if they're paid to do so, it's their market interest not to do so extensively, because...

- The more they reduce Android's abilities, the less Android handset sell, the less money they get. Except, of course, if they want to favor another manufacturer.
- Carriers know that it's not in their best interest to favor Apple too much. Here in France, in the early iPhone years, they just turned every single mobile phone ad into an iPhone ad, but now there isn't any iPhone ad anymore on the roads. If I wasn't a geek, I wouldn't even have known that the iPhone 4 is out. Carriers are now quiet because they know that Apple's philosophy of control means less income and less control for them, and they don't want that.
- So carriers try to favor the BlackBerry and Symbian platforms. But in the end, they know that the sheep wants a smartphone with a large touchscreen, facebook integration, and silly apps on it. They must advertise such phones if they want all those customers that have a lot of money and no brain. Hence Android becomes the logical choice...

Geopolitics of the mobile space are complex, so I may be misunderstood, but I think that Google aren't in such a bad shape as you think.

Edited 2010-09-09 07:47 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Tony Swash
by Tony Swash on Thu 9th Sep 2010 10:17 in reply to "RE: Comment by Tony Swash"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

Again, are you sure of it ? In the end, it's market share that matters. Every single Android handset still included a GMail and a Maps app, last time I checked. And though carriers can get in Google's way a bit, if they're paid to do so, it's their market interest not to do so extensively, because...


It looked to me as if Google, faced with possible Apple dominance of the mobile space, opted for a strategic response, Android, without really thinking through their strategy. Thats not a surprise really as everything I have read about Google's internal working strongly suggests a company lacking a strategic central command and focus, and one built on enormous but rather chaotic forward momentum.

If Android is a strategy to keep Google dominant (or at least very strong) in the mobile space it may not work very well. Already the Chinese variant has spiralled completely out of Google's control and now you have mainstream handset makers and carriers making models with Android but blocking Google search. You can add to that problem the issue of OS fragmentation.

In order to deal with this problem Google would have to police the Android space and Android deployments in way similar to the way that Microsoft policed Window deployments (no OEM could tinker about with Windows, remove IE for example, change the interface or remove features, all they could do was add craplets). If Google went down that path they would find themselves in direct conflict with the handset makers and it would be a battle of will and strength and I am not sure Google has a strong enough hand here. Microsoft could only play hardball with the OEMs because it was really a monopoly and there really was no alternative. In the mobile space there are alternatives. Apple's iPhone and RIM are alternatives to Android handsets as external constraints on an Android/Google monopoly and there now alternative OS catching up such as WP7 for hand set makers to consider using (can you imagine the financial inducements Microsoft are offering).

Google has some hard decisions to make if Android is to deliver what Google wants (extending their search/Ad monopoly to the mobile space).

As for the notion that Google will become a sort of global internet charity dependent - please get real. Google may seem an institution now but so was Compuserve, Minitel and AOL once. Anyone remember a company called Siri -where did they go and I wonder what they are up to ;)

I don't think Google will disappear but it could find itself, its cashflow and its profitability terribly squeezed by the rise of the mobile space and Android may end being a poor response.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by Tony Swash
by Neolander on Thu 9th Sep 2010 10:57 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Tony Swash"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

If Android is a strategy to keep Google dominant (or at least very strong) in the mobile space it may not work very well. Already the Chinese variant has spiralled completely out of Google's control and now you have mainstream handset makers and carriers making models with Android but blocking Google search. You can add to that problem the issue of OS fragmentation.

In my opinion, even when things like this occur, Android can still be useful for Google, as a source of chaos and fragmentation in the mobile space.

Formerly, the mobile space was largely unorganized. Tons of company made low-end handsets, a few companies were dominant in some niche market (palm&hp in the PDA world, BB for business-oriented cellphones), and globally the sole dominant player was Nokia, because they were rich enough to adapt themselves to every single use cases (and made phones that can fall in water from the top of a building and still work after drying the pieces and putting them back together).

Nokia's domination does not harm Google's business, since the brand is largely open-minded and driven by business logic. This is what made it successful. If Google want to distribute some Youtube app on nokia handsets, they can, provided that they pay nokia a large enough sum of money. Google has that money.

Now, a new kind of market has emerged in the mobile world : touchscreen phones with dumb applications and high-quality web browsers. And for some reason Nokia did not adapt itself well as usual. They probably did not see it coming (who would buy a futility-oriented phone, seriously ?). The newcomer, Apple, could hence invade it with its product.

The problem for Google is that Apple are not driven by usual financial logic. They are ready to lose money and market share if they can tightly control their products and users in their whole lifespan. Google, as a major player on the Internet, is an obstacle to Apple's absolute monarchy, so they know that if Apple manage to get some serious market share in the mobile space, they will be in big trouble.

This was the situation when development of Android began.

Let's see what's happening now : if things continue to go this way, Android handsets are going to outsell the iPhone, no matter if it's under Google's control or not. That's because they are cheaper, and fit much more use cases than Apple's gizmo. If Google loses its grip on Android, milions of manufacturers and business interests will get a small part of it. So in the end, no one will be able to pretend "I control the android market". Like in 2006, there will too much players around.

Most companies would be happy to treat with Google, include a Youtube app and a GMail app, and so on. The bing example is an exception, and Google know that. So in the end, by treating with each manufacturer separately, they can manage to govern the mobile web in the end. Because unlike local applications, websites work on *all* Android handsets in the same way.

(PS : And if Apple wants to avoid this scenario, they must make sure that their iOS devices cover much more use cases. This means making them cheaper and more flexible. I see Apple making cheaper devices, but I think they'll lose in the flexibility area. Simply mentioning in front of Jobs the idea of letting an user browse its files, or code applications in Flash and on a PC, is risking death penalty. Same for suggesting that the touchscreen interface may be impractical in several cases and that including more buttons could have its uses...)

Edited 2010-09-09 11:06 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4