Is Google CEO Eric Schmidt “feisty”?
So says Business Week magazine Silicon Valley bureau chief Robert D. Hof.
As part of the magazine’s current cover package: “Who’s afraid of Google?,” Hof presents a themed “conversation” with Schmidt, “Is Google too powerful?”
Hof on the exchange: “Schmidt was feisty and resolute.”
Schmidt was particularly “feisty” over Microsoft.
Despite Schmidt’s exhortations that “I don't want to talk about Microsoft” because “I have a long history there,” Hof offered “People increasingly compare Google to Microsoft in the mid-1990s, at the height of its power, arrogant at times.”
Schmidt: The comparison is absolutely false. And the reason it's false is that people do not understand the strength of the Microsoft monopoly. Microsoft had 90%-plus market share in a market where it was impossible to switch. And Google has neither. It certainly does not have that market as best we can tell, and it's trivial to switch. Microsoft hid behind the user-choice argument.
2% using the Mac. I mean, c'mon. Let's just use absolute facts here. Microsoft was at the height of its power because people didn't have a choice. Google may or may not be at the height of its power, but it's certainly the case that people have a choice. The comparison is just wrong. It's not correct.
Microsoft was accused of monopoly maintenance in many, many ways. It had to do with their tactics, their market share, the fact that they locked their users in. None of those are present in Google. Nor will they be.
Is the Schmidt “Google is not Microsoft and never could be” argument an irrefutable one?
Topix.net (majority owned by media companies Gannett, McClatchy and Tribune) CEO Rich Skrenta expressed to the Wall Street Journal earlier this month his frustration with 50% search engine market share Google’s monopoly like influence:
About 50% of visits to his news site come through a search engine, and about 90% of the time, that is Google. Some companies say their sites have disappeared from top search results for weeks or months after making address switches, due to quirky rules Google and other search engines have adopted. So the same user who typed "Anna Nicole Smith news" into Google last week and saw Topix.net as a top result might not see it at all after the change to Topix.com.
Even if traffic to Topix, which gets about 10 million visitors a month, dropped just 10%, that would essentially be a 10% loss in ad revenue, Mr. Skrenta says. "Because of this little mechanical issue, it could be a catastrophe for us," he says. Further frustrating him is that Google's response to Topix's plea for help was an email recommending that, if the switchover were to go badly, the company should post a message on an online user-support forum; a Google engineer might come along to help out.
"This can't be the process," Mr. Skrenta says. "You're cast into this amusing, Kafkaesque world to run your business."
After the Skrenta WSJ Google lament, his blog proclaimed “How to beat Google”:
Our entire industry is scared witless by Google's dominance in search and advertising. Microsoft and Yahoo have been unsuccessful at staunching the bleeding of their search market share. VCs parrot the Google PR FUD machine that you need giant datacenters next to hydroelectric dams to compete. They spout nonsense about how startups should just use Alexa's crawl and put some ajax on top of it. Ye gods.
Grow a spine people! You have a giant growing market with just one dominant competitor, not even any real #2. You're going to do clean-tech energy saving software to shut off lightbulbs in high-rises instead? Pfft. Get a stick and try to knock G's crown off.
Monopoly like crown, that is!