I took some time off to play Santa, returning to find an enormous uproar over the Rosenberg Manifesto, an essay written by Jonathan Rosenberg (right), senior vice president of product management at Google, concerning what open source means to his company.
This is something I have been writing here for years, so it's gratifying to see a Google insider lay it out so thoroughly and carefully.
Closed systems are well-defined and profitable, but only for those who control them. Open systems are chaotic and profitable, but only for those who understand them well and move faster than everyone else. Closed systems grow quickly while open systems evolve more slowly, so placing your bets on open requires the optimism, will, and means to think long term.
Google has the means to afford optimism and will because its infrastructure gives it a big cost advantage in delivering high-quality bits to you.
You define what is high quality. It could be video, it could be news, it could be the answer to a very specific question. Google can process that request for less, and deliver any digital answer to it for less, than any other company.
I don't know why Microsoft has been rumored to be circling Yahoo for so many years. If it wants to change the game with Google it needs to buy Verizon. Microsoft is almost three times bigger, by market cap, than the former Bell Atlantic-MCI. Google's advantage is in costs, not revenue streams.
But perhaps this is another story we should pursue another decade.
For now let's just enjoy the snarky idiocy of my fellow typists in response to Google's announcement it wins through open systems. The meaning of open is when it's convenient for them, sniffs TechCrunch. Open doesn't mean altruistic, meows Gigaom.
Well, yes. I don't know why reporters think it is their job to find the dark cloud inside every silver lining, but there you have it. But the big dog doesn't have to be magnanimous, either.
Google benefits from open source. The more open source and transparency become the way of the world, the better it is for Google.
But this does not make openness a requirement for Google. Microsoft would have benefited from openness in the 1990s, but didn't practice it. IBM would have benefited from it in the 1980s but didn't practice it.
The big dog benefits from a growing market. The faster the market grows the better for the big dog.
Google has cracked a code that has eluded dominant suppliers for centuries. It has done so transparently, openly, honestly.
What's not to celebrate?