Friday, August 03, 2007

Google teasing too many lions?

Robert Cringely asks, "Is Google on crack?"

Inflammatory title, but Bob's point is that, while the telcos may be lumbering giants, taking on these powerful companies might just end with Google squashed underfoot:
Google made an unexpected reckless move in the wireless bandwidth market .... Google wants ... [to turn] what would have been yet another mobile phone system into a mobile Internet.

They don't know who they are messing with ... The wireless incumbents ... are mean and spiteful companies and WILL HAVE THEIR REVENGE.

The wireless carriers will spend whatever it takes to win ... because they don't want to change operational rules that have been very profitable for them over the years.

I'm all for tilting at windmills ... but Google has a lot at risk here and I think they are being foolish, even stupid.

What if Verizon, and AT&T, and Comcast, and half a dozen other huge broadband ISPs suddenly cut deals with some search company other than Google and your ISP-supplied browser and homepage no longer give such prominence to Google?

Yahoo ... fully supports Google's bold move, but you notice they didn't make it. Microsoft has been totally silent. Certainly Microsoft smells blood in the water and will be approaching all the outfits Google may have offended, trying to do exclusive search and ad deals with them.
Google seems to be biting off a lot these days. In addition to making Microsoft "hell-bent" to kill them, creating a spat with eBay, frightening the news media, angering the big movie and TV studios, and fighting Yahoo and the other search engines, now Google is threatening the telcos.

Google is teasing too many lions. These media and telco companies are massive. They are not beyond using market power to crush those they do not like.

It does not matter if Google's products are technically superior. It does not matter if Google's goals are noble. If all of these powers align against Google, Google will not survive.

Update: Apparently, Google likes to tease lions in multiple ways. The NYT writes, "Some believe another major goal of [Google's] phone project is to loosen the control of carriers over the software and services that are available on their networks."


Joshua said...

I saw Google's moves as simply PR that costs them absolutely nothing. They absolutely don't intend to win the auction, and they absolutely don't want to be "in the wireless bandwidth market right now". The telcos know this, and everyone knows the auction will go well above 4.6bln anyway.

Nobody is threatened by Google's move. It's like someone telling his girlfriend "I would bring you the moon if I could". A nice way to score brownie points with zero risk of every having to deliver on the promise.

Cringley is just playing along with the propaganda, "Google is defending the little guy at great risk to themselves!"

As for MSFT's position, MSFT has been lobbying for net neutrality longer than Google has, and nothing has changed. But as Cringley points out, one company has already played the crass meaningless pandering trick, so there isn't much value for others to pile on.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe there is any real "enemy" in the business world, unless you are up against donald trump. Therefore I am not afraid that GOogle is playing w/ too many lions. If you don't play with them, how do you get to know them and make use of them? I say google is very smart trying out new stuff and search for new sources of revenue. MSFT knows nothing about internet and search other than following google's footsteps. Yahoo! is going down.

Unknown said...

@J: I am sorry, but I think Greg's post is one that truly "gets" what GOOG is doing. The more they play these marketing games, the more they become perceived as "less of a threat" due to the signals (mostly noise) they are sending the market, both technology and stock.

It's better to do like APPLE: Shut up and make no press releases and decline all speculation until people are lining up in droves to purchase your product or hear you speak about what you're actually already prepared to execute.

GOOG is hurting their brand power with these games and I must say the "lions" know it.

Cord said...

My name is Cord Blomquist and I work at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a pro-market group based in DC. Greg quoted me in a post a while back:

I think Greg's right that Google is making a lot of people angry, including people like me in the free-market think-tank world. CEI and other market-based groups are very upset with the direction that Google has gone in because it has asked for special favors, like stipulations in the wireless auction. We don't mind taking on wireless and wired incumbents, but messing with the free market is a bridge too far.

This is bad for Google as we also defend their deal with DoubleClick and are generally against privacy mandates. You can see posts at Tech Liberation Front on Google here: