NYT: 'Relax, Bill Gates; It's Google's Turn as the Villain'

NYT: 'Relax, Bill Gates; It's Google's Turn as the Villain'

Summary: That's the headline in a New York Times article (requires free registration) by Gary Rivlin.  The story talks about how the Google honeymoon is over and now, because of the way it's becoming just as corporate as any other big tech titan, it is now the first company to come along in a long time that stands any kind of a chance at challenging Microsoft's dominance.

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TOPICS: Google
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That's the headline in a New York Times article (requires free registration) by Gary Rivlin.  The story talks about how the Google honeymoon is over and now, because of the way it's becoming just as corporate as any other big tech titan, it is now the first company to come along in a long time that stands any kind of a chance at challenging Microsoft's dominance. One sign, according to the story, is the amount of resentment that's building up against the company in Silicon Valley due to some questionable practices.  Suggesting that history is destined to repeat itself, this is one of the better parts of the story (there are so many):

To place Google in context, [former Excite founder Joe Kraus] offered a brief history lesson. In the 1990's, he said, I.B.M. was widely perceived in Silicon Valley as a "gentle giant" that was easy to partner with while Microsoft was perceived as an "extraordinarily fearsome, competitive company wanting to be in as many businesses as possible and with the engineering talent capable of implementing effectively anything."

Now, in the view of Mr. Kraus, "Microsoft is becoming I.B.M. and Google is becoming Microsoft."

Kraus, by the way, is currently the CEO at Jotspot.  Perhaps a better yardstick for the aforementioned resentment turned up in the headline of a recent Motley Fool article by Seth Jayson.  Read the headline: Google: Now 10% More Evil.  The story referred to Google's blacklisting of CNET reporters for using Google's search engine to reveal some of Google CEO Eric Schmidt's personal information.  That blacklist isn't just for CNET's News.com though.  It's apparently for other CNET Networks properties including ZDNet.  Last week, while doing some fact checking for a story I'm working on, I called Google's PR but had to leave a message.  I asked for a call back even if ZDNet was on the blacklist just so I knew that was the case.  I never got a call back.  Of course, two could play that game.  But, as you can see from our scooper on Google Talk (Google's new instant messaging service), that's not our style.

Topic: Google

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  • I said this was coming a year ago...

    NT
    BitTwiddler
  • What's the upside?

    [i]"...it is now the first company to come along in a long time that stands any kind of a chance at challenging Microsoft's dominance."[/i]

    Why would Google want to challenge Microsoft? The two are not direct competitors. They have individual competing products (messenger clients, free email), but they only thing they directly compete on at this point is search, and that's a saturated market. IMO, all that's left in search is findng new ways to divide up the pie, and Google doesn't seem poised to let that happen. The onus is on Microsoft there.

    I can't see the rationale for Google to 'take on' Microsoft. I doubt Google will attempt to compete in any of Microsoft's core business areas. OS, Office suite, database back-ends, even games all seem to be areas Google has no designs on entering. From their position, it would make far more sense to find a way to work with Microsoft as much as possible, and keep them honest. And by 'a way to work with Microsoft' I mean collaborate and profit, not do their bidding.

    I'd like to see a good business analogy (preferably non-tech) for the dichotomy between Google and Microsoft. Pepsi vs. Coke doesn't apply, nor does Wal-mart vs. Kmart (or Target), nor does Ford vs. Chevy. Any takers?
    Real World
    • Here Comes Google Linux!

      Yep, you read it here first! Google and their own Linux distribution! Watch out, Microsoft!

      All right, obviously, this isn't real . . . yet. It wouldn't take much, though. Google has the obvious marketing power, and, with their new IM entry, they've shown a willingness to take open standards and throw a product around it. (The new Google Talk will be using Jabber for IM and SIPphone for VoIP.) Throwing together a Linux distribution, loaded with Google-centric add-ons for Firefox, a Linux version of Google Talk, etc. would not be that far of a stretch.

      But, anyway . . . You're right, the comparison between Google and Microsoft sort of left me scratching my head, too. I mean, like you said, Microsoft's bread and butter is operating systems for desktops and servers, productivity software, etc. while Google's is search engines, at best a side-venture for Microsoft, at this point. And, as you mentioned, they both now have other side ventures that compete, such as web mail. But, other than the fact that they are both tech companies, and people are starting to question Google's business practices, there's about as much overlap there as comparing Porsche to Boeing (because they both make transportation vehicles, and Porsche makes, among other things, an aircraft engine).

      Still, one of their other comparisons does bring to mind how quickly that can change. 20 years ago, comparing IBM and Microsoft would have been laughable, as IBM was into "big iron" and just getting settled into the personal computer arena, and Microsoft was a software company that centered on programming languages and a CP/M rip-off called DOS. And the technology industry moves so much faster now than it did then. Who knows? Five to ten years from now, maybe we'll all be chatting on Google Talk using Google Linux as we watch our Google Bars for the latest on the antitrust case against Google.

      But, for now, yeah, that was a reach.
      Whyaylooh
      • Porsche to Boeing isn't bad

        but the landscape for their respective industires is considerably different, as is the industires interdependence. Got me thinking, though...
        Real World
    • Here's the Upside

      The world is changing, just like it went from big iron to desktop
      PCs, we are shifting from desktop apps to web-based. 90% of
      users out there (even in enterprise) really don't need the Office
      suite. Instead of Word for memos/reports/etc, use web-based
      email/wikis/cms/IM/etc. Most just need Excel for viewing
      reports prepared by others, same with PowerPoint. Switch all
      that over to Google web-based apps, throw in a Google browser
      add in the Google Desktop, IM, VoIP and half of the Microsoft
      franchise (Office) goes bye, bye. In that scenario and for what
      most people do, what's underneath (operating system) could
      become irrelevant. Throw a customized, low-profile Google
      version of Linux under all that and half (or more) of Microsoft's
      business disappears.
      That's the upside for Google, downside for Microsoft and why
      Gates is developing an ulcer.
      PXLated
      • Idealistic

        And people haven't stopped buying (or downloading, in the case of OOo) Office software. And if no one's preparing excel reports, what are people looking at? In other words, where is the evidence to support your assertion?
        Real World
  • ZD Aside

    Aside from ZD's refusal to talk to ZD, [b]what[/b] examples can anyone point to of Google playing hardball, much less throwing spitballs?

    As far as I've been able to tell, Google is doing a pretty job of living up to "don't be evil." Of course, I don't see anything wrong with refusing to talk to reporters who've gotten personal, either.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • So you approve

      of killing the messenger?

      [Of course, I don't see anything wrong with refusing to talk to reporters who've gotten personal, either.]

      Google should have THANKED the reporters that pointed out the OTHER edge of the double-edged sword that is search. The road to hell is paved with good intentions - and Google CLAIMS to be good . . .
      Roger Ramjet
      • Not quite

        [i]Google should have THANKED the reporters that pointed out the OTHER edge of the double-edged sword that is search.[/i]

        I suspect so. However, that's a matter of poor judgment rather than turning to The Dark Side.

        [i]The road to hell is paved with good intentions - and Google CLAIMS to be good .[/i]

        No, they simply strive to "not be evil."

        The difference is important. Microsoft, for instance, tries to be Good. They have a Grand Vision of how the world can be improved and that excuses them from all sorts of slimy behavior.

        Google just tries to not do evil -- and I can't see that exercising their (I believe unquestioned) right to not speak to those they don't want to can qualify as "evil."

        The other thing they're accused of is hiring the best people in the business by giving them great work to do in a thrilling environment. Yeah, we sure can't tolerate that now, can we?
        Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Then...

      ...is Microsoft right in complaining about so-called "security" professionals who release exploits into the wild without adequate prior notification? Seems like a similar situation to me.

      Carl Rapson
      rapson
      • Huh?

        Do you see a difference between choosing whom [b]you[/b] speak to and what [b]you[/b] say and telling others who [b]they[/b] may speak to and what [b]they[/b] may say?

        From your question I suspect not.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Better

    Better than Google Linux is Google web-based productivity software for word processing and spreadsheets. It makes sense.

    Is Google evil? No, but stating they won't talk to cnet.com people is moronic.
    opensourcepro
  • Harping/Griping

    Have noticed that anytime a company sees success all the
    negativity comes out...Google and Apple come to mind, they both
    now appear to be evil according to others and some journalists.
    Everyone likes success up to a point then it's time to tear them
    down to size. It's kind of a sick game. But it's been played forever.
    Build them up, Tear them down.
    PXLated
  • What will Google sell?

    At this time their revenue comes from being an ad broker. (You can do a search on another engine and still see Google ads on many sites. That means Google is agreeing with sites on placement of advertising, as opposed to having ads appear only with their search results.)

    They also produce some good free software. I like Picasa. But free doesn't produce profits, and Google is now an (overvalued) public company, with shareholders who may not care about being paid dividends, but who want to be rewarded for their extravagant investment by reading high profit numbers.
    Little enough return for all that money.

    So, to me the question to ask about Google is: What will they do to increase profits?

    I wonder why we don't know already.

    Both Yahoo and Microsoft can see the revenue value of search, and both products are competitive with Google. There's a race to improve the search algorhythm, but even that means only first to market, not predominant forever. And there's no guarantee Google will win.

    So I think that Google's villainy, which may be only a profit orientation and a less than paranoid view of privacy, can only continue and increase.

    But they still have to sell something.
    Anton Philidor
    • heres what Google sells about you

      Google sells peoples addresses if you know their phone number.
      Google also sells peoples address and phone number if you know their car licence number.
      How come no one at zdnet written any articles on this.
      BrutalTruth
  • How is Google the 'villain' now?

    I go their web site and I get most of the info I need without paying a cent. The service is FREE and the results are very decent.

    How does this compare to MS or IBM? Does MS offer anything for free? Even what the offer at a pre,iu, price, is not even half-way decent in quality.

    And who can call MS the 'gentle giant'? This is preposterous and not funny at all ...

    BTW, it is not Gates who needs to relax but the millions of MS users who are hit left and right by the all kinds of malware that comes their way, gratis the incompetenece of the ms windows 'engineers'....
    michael_t
  • googles sells people's address, ph #

    Google sells peoples addresses if you know their phone number.
    Google also sells peoples address and phone number if you know their car licence number.
    How come no one at zdnet written any articles on this.
    BrutalTruth
    • They Did

      First of all, Google doesn't sell that information; it's freely available. Just like much of it is in your local phone book, which is, in fact, where they get the address and phone number information you mentioned. If you're unlisted in the phone book, then your number isn't listed on Google, unless you do something silly like put it up on a web page someplace. So, if you're going to get militant about this information being available on Google, might as well start flaming your local white and yellow pages, too. All of the information on Google is freely available via public record; you just have to know where to look. All Google does is pull it all into one convenient spot.

      Secondly, as for why ZDNet hasn't written an article about how freely and conveniently this information is available via Google . . . Actually, they did, thus their being blacklisted by Google.

      The original article:
      http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-5787483.html

      The article explaining Google's blacklisting of ZDNet reporters, and . . . heh . . . ZDNet UK's rather amusing "apology":
      http://comment.zdnet.co.uk/0,39020505,39212555,00.htm

      Interesting reads. Check 'em out.
      Whyaylooh