Google: We're not in the portal business; Earth to Google: Oh yes you are!

Interesting John Battelle interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in which he addressed the question of whether Google is in the portal business. Like Yahoo and to a lesser extend Microsoft.

Interesting John Battelle interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in which he addressed the question of whether Google is in the portal business. Like Yahoo and to a lesser extend Microsoft. The portal exchange went like this:

"Battelle: OK, so does that mean Google’s a portal? Because if you think of it that way, as Terry Semel recently pointed out, it ranks as one of the smaller ones.

Schmidt: Well, if I can be obnoxious --

Battelle: Please.

Schmidt: You’re using a tired model of looking at corporate behavior. You’re looking at us based on market share for technologies and ideas that were invented 10 years ago. A much better way to ask that is to say, Are the things that we’re doing consistent with the mission of the company? We’re not in the portal business, we’re in the business of making all the world’s information accessible and useful. We never have the conversation that you just asked.

The test that I apply -- and we do this every day, 70/20/10 -- is to ask how a feature will extend the core, the adjacent, or the innovative stuff to fulfill our mission. That’s the sort of drug that we all take, and it works really quite well. So it may very well be that what you said is correct, and it may not matter very much."
(emphasis mine)

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but is that just playing with words? Surely the best way to make the ALL the world's information accessible and useful is to collect a whole bunch of information and services together under one umbrella....which is a portal. Granted, the definition of portal has changed over the last few years. As Dan Farber wrote recently:

"The portals want users to identify with them, like they do with designer labels and sports teams, with a deep two-way relationship. You might be a Yahoo Mail, Yahoo and AOL IM, Google search, Bloglines RSS reader, Amazon, eBay user, but the portals want to cultivate more pure, deeply engaged users, focusing on convenience, personalization and least 'good enough,' comparable sets of services."

The 70/20/10 refers to this:

70%
CORE BUSINESS
AdSense
AdWords
Google Search

20%
RELATED PROJECTS
Froogle
Google Desktop
Google Local
Google News
Google Print
Google Stocks
Google Toolbar
Google Video

10%
NEW BUSINESSES
Blogger
Google Mini
Google Movies
Google Reader
Google Talk
Google Wi-Fi
Picasa

I'd argue that Google is a portal, but in many ways it's just semantics. It only becomes important when you question whether Google is in competition with Yahoo and Microsoft and any other 'portal' type business. And the answer to that is: of course they are!

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