Friday, September 23, 2005

Adventure 4

What's Google upto?

Sorry, I do not know too much about either computers or business. But seriously, what the hell is Google upto? Every other website is raving about how Google is going to overthrow Microsoft as the future Empire in the computer world.

Supposedly Google has been continuously buying dark fibre for the past five years to connect all its data centres (or whatever they call it). Google Earth offers satellite pictures of the world. An ambitious online library project is coming up. Google is the toast of every techie worth her salt. But for what good?

The cracks are already evident. The South Korean Government is planning to sue Google for providing satellite pictures of its defence installations openly on Google Earth. Some authors have already sued Google for copyright violation. GMail has faced severe criticism for breach of privacy. And the small print says that Google will sell the personal details of millions of Orkut users in case it goes under.

I am sure more is yet to follow.

Sadly, Google, a company famous for its unorthodox innovations and superior talent pool is going the way of other big corporations. They have unveiled a slew of other services, which seem unbelievable at first. But, seriously, who's going to pay over a hundred dollars to know how many ICUs are there in Texas? Google's revenues are mainly from search results. Admittedly it controls more than half of all web searches. But why not concentrate on that only? By shifting focus, they may let Yahoo! and MSN just take a large chunk of the pie. Google Talk is hardly an innovation...Yahoo and MSN messengers already had the PC-to-PC call feature, though admittedly not so clear. Other services like linguistic support are good, but cannot be used by serious professionals, as some flaws do exist still...not everything is translatable!

Google needs to watch its step, or it may just cease to be the religion that it is...


Venu said...

"What's Google upto?"

Simple. Its expanding. Its got the money and its got the talent.

And dont buy sacremongers stories about how Google will soon monopolise the internet and will control our lives and will sell info to Big-Brother govts. etc.

"Sadly, Google, a company famous for its unorthodox innovations and superior talent pool is going the way of other big corporations"

So long as it doesnt indulge in anti-competitive practices, there's nothing wrong in a big corporation. Just because a few narrow-minded publicity-seeking authors or the commie South Korean govt sue it, their practices arent unethical.

Google products are still fabulous. And the more no. of products in a category, the greater the choice we have and its ultimately the consumer who benefits.

Unknown said...

It's obvious that Google has exciting products and thats why it is as popular as it is...but wasn't that the case with big companies that faced anti-trust suits for killing competition? Microsoft, AT&T, Daimler-Benz to name a few. All these companies brought about revolutionary changes too.But are they respected any more?
Also some of Google's practices are far from ethical. The book project for example - its going to make money by advertising along with the books for whose copyright they haven't paid.
Also...South Korea is not Communist, that's North Korea, who stand to gain from Google Earth! I don't give a damn about that, but Google Earth also give detailed pictures of Rashtrapati Bhavan, and various Indian (as well as Pakistani) military bases, while US bases are conveniently omitted, in spite of the fact that we can see every other detail of American cities.

Venu said...

"All these companies brought about revolutionary changes too.But are they respected any more?"

Well, I can cite examples of companies that are as cool today as they were when they started up inspite of great growth(Apple springs to mind). In any case, thats beside the point. Whats relevant is whether we can actually say that Google is killing competition now ( or are there any pointers to its doing so in the future)? I think its too early to start accusing it. You kill of competition by grabbing a large market share and also locking in your customers. We, as Google users, are not yet locked in. And its hard to see how it could do that on the internet.

Sorry about the North Korea - South Korea mixup, I was momentarily preoccupied when I wrote that! On the point of showing military bases etc, I cant say much against what you said. I just think that when a product is as radical as google earth, there're gonna be hiccups. I think the larger idea of providing maps is wonderful and I just imagine these issues will be sorted out in course of time.

And the book project is certainly an even more useful one. Do those authors realise that their books are being opened to a much larger audience, without their having to spend a single dollar?. It wont let you read the whole book anyway, and if your book really is useful, someone will find that he needs it and will buy it. I dont mind if Google makes money along the way; its adequately compensating the authors. The copyright laws are all outdated; if we are to make good use of technology they must change.

Chandan R said...

One thing i really appreciate Google is because of the open standards they follow - for example in case of their Google talk.

About the Google earth and it showing military establishments and other such sensitive issues, i think of it this way - If google can get such information then so can countries like US, Britain, even for that matter India. Now with google earth and its open information it is accessible to everyone in the world. Moreover it is not a nuclear weapon to be feared.

Lalbadshah said...

Agree with chand... CIA definitely doesn't need Google Earth to find India's secret sites and other things... but the point is.. there is a certain Osama and other such smart junta who wud rather use this for their own purposes.. hence the flaw.

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