Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 23rd May 2012 16:13 UTC
Google Google CEO Larry Page was interviewed on Charlie Rose recently, and there was certainly some interesting stuff in there. Sadly, the interview suffers from the curse of modern journalism in that it was all a bit timid and civil (no truly harsh and confronting questions), but despite that, it's still a good watch. Two quotes from Page really stood out to me.
Thread beginning with comment 519152
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE[2]: are you kidding?
by Tony Swash on Wed 23rd May 2012 18:11 UTC in reply to "RE: are you kidding?"
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

Of course, legal assaults are par for the course - I meant it more in a sense that a few guys on a university doing a search engine on a single server could not have anticipated this.


Particularly if those guys were deeply imbued with a shared culture that all information should be free and open to Google, that copying anything was OK, that casually cloning, undermining and killing other companies products was OK as long as it was for free and was 'open'. Somewhere deep inside I think these guys just think it's OK to share anything and everything with anyone (except their search algorithms of course), and probably are taken aback that people get pissed off about their stuff being copied.

I am not sure it's worth the effort but here goes.

There is zero evidence that Apple "have been looking to shutdown the Android competition, which hasn't really been working out swell for them"

All the evidence I can see points to Apple having a strategy of waging a long attritional legal campaign to deter other companies from copying their designs. One may argue that Apple are deluded that such copying is occurring, or that such copying is OK or that Apple do just as much copying, but it is abundantly clear that Apple genuinely believes such copying is occurring and that they want to stop it, or at least drastically reduce it. It also seems clear that no one with an ounce of common sense would think that through clever legal manoeuvre it would be possible to suppress permanently, or even for a significant period of time, competition in the hottest tech markets. And certainly there is no evidence that anyone at Apple thinks such silly things. It seems to me pretty straight forward, Apple think they get copied too much, they want to reduce that copying, so by being very proactive in taking robustly fought legal actions they want to deter companies from copying in future. One can accept that analysis of Apple's intentions with out in any way endorsing or approving their actions.

Turning to the Page interview, when he says "When we bought Android, we had no idea they were doing it, and they had no idea we were doing it" I think he is being truthful. At that time Google's main worry was the possible rise of Windows Mobile (and an ancillary concern about RIM I suspect) because if Microsoft had managed to take over the smart phone OS space like that had the desktop space then there would be a good chance that Google's services would be shut out. Android was originally a play largely against MS, to trump them by undercutting a paid license OS model with an equally good and free one. But then the iPhone was announced and overnight any half way intelligent observer knew that all previous phone systems were obsolete. At that point Android had to retool and reorient and it had to adopt the same design paradigm as the iPhone and be at least good enough so that the Android OEMs could sell against the iPhone.

Google is between a rock and hard place when it comes to mobile. No one makes much money from mobile advertising. The rates of ad earnings per mobile user is much, much lower than per desktop users. If that continues to be true and if mobile does erode the old desktop/browser web model with a new mobile device and app model then Google's long term revenue stream is potentially threatened. I remain unconvinced that Android is the correct answer to Google's long term problems with mobile and I think they remain between a rock and hard place. I wonder if an ever deeper alliance with Apple might have been a better bet, but I understand that maybe Google thought it too risky because a rampant and dominant Apple might have screwed them eventually. Tough call.

Reply Parent Score: -4

RE[3]: are you kidding?
by Brunis on Wed 23rd May 2012 18:42 in reply to "RE[2]: are you kidding?"
Brunis Member since:
2005-11-01

If you tamper with the evidence to prove your point, you havent even convinced yourself there's an actual case..

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: are you kidding?
by _txf_ on Wed 23rd May 2012 18:56 in reply to "RE[2]: are you kidding?"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

I wonder if an ever deeper alliance with Apple might have been a better bet, but I understand that maybe Google thought it too risky because a rampant and dominant Apple might have screwed them eventually. Tough call.


Apple has a history of sidelining successful developers in its community (although they tend to be smaller scale than google), by taking their products and integrating a (better) clone.

And MS was completely out of the question, as they seemingly screwed over all their mobile partners by malice and by accident.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: are you kidding?
by JAlexoid on Thu 24th May 2012 00:03 in reply to "RE[2]: are you kidding?"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Particularly if those guys were deeply imbued with a shared culture that all information should be free and open to Google...

I'm sorry, do you know them personally to make such conclusions?

There is zero evidence that Apple "have been looking to shutdown the Android competition, which hasn't really been working out swell for them"

Asserting patent claims that go beyond the UI and anything visual is, in fact, such evidence. I can understand that "slide-to-unlock" is more of a visual element, but real time API patent?

At that point Android had to retool and reorient and it had to adopt the same design paradigm as the iPhone and be at least good enough so that the Android OEMs could sell against the iPhone.

Ask Diane Hackborn about it, or read her comments.

No one makes much money from mobile advertising.

Google made 7% of their total revenue, that is not a small amount.


I remain unconvinced that Android is the correct answer to Google's long term problems with mobile and I think they remain between a rock and hard place. I wonder if an ever deeper alliance with Apple might have been a better bet, but I understand that maybe Google thought it too risky because a rampant and dominant Apple might have screwed them eventually. Tough call.

Deeper alliance with Apple wouldn't have made a difference in the situation, while still leaving Google "out cold" if Apple ever decided to ditch Google. Android is the moat around their castle, that works perfectly well.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[4]: are you kidding?
by Tony Swash on Thu 24th May 2012 13:59 in reply to "RE[3]: are you kidding?"
Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22


I'm sorry, do you know them personally to make such conclusions?


I don't know them personally but I have read extensively on Google and it's founders including several books, many article and interviews. I have also observed Google's actions over many years. The the evidence I feel is pretty strong that it is correct saying that the culture of Google is "that all information should be free and open to Google, that copying anything was OK". I do not know of any evidence that the two founders of Google hold different views than that expressed by Google's collective culture or have battled to change that culture, and in many interviews they seem to endorse it. I am surprised that anybody finds this controversial. Google wants to open up all the world's data for inspection. Is that not what Google says it wants? If one believes such a thing as a central organising pillar of one's corporate culture (irrespective of whether it is a good or bad thing) then certain patterns of behaviour will result.


There is zero evidence that Apple "have been looking to shutdown the Android competition, which hasn't really been working out swell for them"

Asserting patent claims that go beyond the UI and anything visual is, in fact, such evidence. I can understand that "slide-to-unlock" is more of a visual element, but real time API patent?



But how is that evidence of Apple's strategic goals? That is just one tactical legal battle in a legal war, the issue at point is what is the aim of that war. It is often, lazily, claimed it is to 'shut down the competition'. I am arguing that not only is that not the aim of Apple's legal war but that such an aim is patently absurd and would only be pursued by foolish people. I don't think Apple's management look like such fools. It's perfectly possible to still object to Apple's legal actions whilst making statement that are accurate about what they are doing and why. Spouting inaccurate hyperbole is never good for one's cause in my experience.


No one makes much money from mobile advertising.

Google made 7% of their total revenue, that is not a small amount.


First off one has to bear in mind that Google make more money from iOS than from Android. That has been confirmed by Google in public statements and is not disputed.

Horace Dediu at Asymco calculates that overall, Android could amount to about 3.5% of total Google revenues and about 5% of operating earnings.

http://www.asymco.com/2012/05/16/androids-contribution-to-google/

Horace in another article calculates that Google receives a contribution of $2.75 per device per year from Android

http://www.asymco.com/2012/05/14/the-android-income-statement/

Lets assume that Android reaches an installed base of 1 billion devices in the next couple of years and that all of those devices include Google services and thus generate income for Google at the rate that such devices appear to do. That means 1 billion Android devices earns Google around $2.75 billion per year (which tallies nicely with your $7% figure). So with a billion devices Google's Android business is nice but not spectacular and will not break even for several years (until the costs of the wholly Android based Motorola acquisition are recouped for example).

The crucial strategic issue for Google and for any assessment of it's Android strategy is whether those mobile revenues are additional to Google's existing business. If one believes, as I do, that the rise of mobile internet connected computing devices will lead to a long term and secular decline in desktop computing then Google may be faced with declining revenues. This is because of the key point I made and which you did not address which is that all evidence indicates strongly that each mobile user generate much less advertising income than each desktop user and almost all of Google's income is from advertising.

Finally as a comparison of the merits of relative business strategies one can compare Google's mobile business strategy (Android) to Apple's (selling integrated devices attached to content stacks).

Google makes about $2.75 per handset.

Apple makes a profit of $357 per iPhone and continues to make revenue in relation to content transactions.

Do the math. If both iOS and Android reach a billion devices each (which is quite possible and in fact likely) which business strategy is better?

If the internet based on desktop browsers actually declines how can Google make up the shortfall in revenues from mobile?

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: are you kidding?
by galvanash on Thu 24th May 2012 06:40 in reply to "RE[2]: are you kidding?"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Particularly if those guys were deeply imbued with a shared culture that all information should be free and open to Google


Why throw those two words on the end? Are you implying that they believed that information should not be free and open to others back in their college days?

If you take those two words off the end, and remove the overly emphatic word "all" - you get this:

Particularly if those guys were deeply imbued with a shared culture that information should be free and open


If the tech industry had a bit more of that shared culture (and it could manage to survive an IPO fully intact) the world would be a much better place. But alas that is not the way it works...

that copying anything was OK, that casually cloning, undermining and killing other companies products was OK as long as it was for free and was 'open'.


Your making a morality case here - and your using it relative to a discussion about US tech companies... I know that for the purposes of campaign contributions businesses in the U.S. are the equivalent of citizens - but companies do not and never have made decisions based on "its the right thing to do" unless that was qualified with the suffix "to make more money".

Google is not Larry and Sergey - it hasn't been for at least a decade. Apple is not/was not the two Steves - that shipped sailed eons ago. These are no longer people we are talking about - decisions are ultimately made by the investors, for the investors. Publicly traded companies are simply machines for making more money - they don't care how as long as they can get away with it and not have the government step in and stop them.

What Larry and Sergey did or did not believe 15 years ago has almost no bearing whatsoever on the Google of today. "Do No Evil" is now "Do No Evil... if you can possibly avoid it without pissing off the board too much". I'm not complaining - that wishy-washy mission statement is loads better than most companies... Regardless, Larry and Sergey worry about what is good for their company, not about hurting Steve Job's feelings.

If releasing a free product will help them make more money, so what if the free product kills off businesses in the process? Yes - Google cannibalizes markets. You don't think Apple is cannibalizing the music industry right now??? The difference (as you pointed out) is that Google does do these things in the name of making free and open products (for whatever that is worth) - Apple does it because they really really like to make a metric f*ck-ton of money - they don't pretend otherwise.

Just to be clear - there is nothing at all wrong with that, but I'm not the one sounding like a spurned lover when describing Google. Google is Apple's competitor - not their ex-girlfriend.

Edited 2012-05-24 06:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[4]: are you kidding?
by JAlexoid on Thu 24th May 2012 16:42 in reply to "RE[3]: are you kidding?"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

I'm not the one sounding like a spurned lover when describing Google. Google is Apple's competitor - not their ex-girlfriend.


QoTD!!!

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: are you kidding?
by iMissBeOS on Thu 24th May 2012 15:28 in reply to "RE[2]: are you kidding?"
iMissBeOS Member since:
2012-05-24

I'm not really sure why you got downgraded to -2. Very thoughtful posting. (edit: I should have included the original quote by Tony. My bad.)

Edited 2012-05-24 15:30 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1