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I Love Google, or, Google Bashing: We Love to Hate What We Love

Our man in London had quite a bit to say about Mr. $343.32 A Share earlier today.

Side Note: “Today”

The notion of “today” starts to loose meaning when your work is spread across time zones. Steve is in Denver, at -7 (or whatever Mountain Time is: I’ve never figured out that kooky time zone); I’m in Austin at -6; and James is right on the zero, making his calculations super easy…lucky bastard. So, when is today? What time zone does “today” occur in?

All you The World is Flat types get ready: the word “today” will loose meaning, as will your family life if you don’t watch out.

Back to Google

Many of the comments to the original post raise good points, namely, “yeah, but Google rocks!” (which is a good point as many smart people will tell you.)

My feel on Google-mania is:

  • $343.32 a share? Really? Even including Google Earth, I’m like, “wha?”
  • “Google’s real narrative” is “throw it on the web and see what sticks.” They’re the prime example of an Agile company…without every yelling out to the market that they’re Agile.
  • If they can either (a.) move their “ship early, ship often” magic to the desktop, or, (b.) move the millions of desktop users to the web, they’ll have a huge chunk of eye-balls locked in.
  • At this point, eye-balls and clicks are all that matter. Aside from the enterprise division (whose products I’m a huge fan of…I wish they’d expand out to more behind-the-firewall appliances), their money maker is “Small Ads, Big Profits”…any one remember the last dude who tried that out?
  • Google figured how to make sustainable revenue off the web before the incumbents did, and said incumbents are hating the consequences of that huge miss now. So it goes. That’s the American, capitalist version of innovation, my friends: two men enter, one man leaves.
  • Damn, I sure do love Google and it’s software. I’m smelling what everyone else is steppin’ in.

Love Isn’t Free

I’ve heard that money can’t but you love, but it’s just not true when it comes to commerce: how the money changes hands just gets more complicated. I love Google’s products, and they’ve spent plenty for everyone’s love: in R&D, text ad sales, and selling off a huge chunk of the company with their IPO. Aside from FireFox and OS X, I must use Google apps more than any other software I “have” (an odd notion with SaaS). (FeedLounge is a close contender, but they’ll have to speed up to make it possible to get more of my time.) I’m in GMail constantly, and not an hour goes by when I’m not searching in Google for something or using it as the quickest and most accurate spellcheck ever known to humanity.

This has gotten me to think recently: how much would I pay to keep my love affair with Google’s services when/if the text ad market stops supporting my habit? My fear is that the price would be too high for me or anyone. That is: Google may be offering gold at the price of tin, subsidized by ads. I’m no numbers/money man, but that’s certainly all I can conclude from their stock price.

Tenuous Tulips

In the back of all of our heads, we’re mindful that the first internet bubble was fueled by the delusional belief that ads could pay for all this “revolution,” as we liked to fancy it back then. Once the emperor paraded down the streets (along with a few other unfortunate events like Enron and the rise of America’s “Dead or Alive” view of the world) that business model shriveled up. Thus, we’re all a little nervous about Google who seems to be following the same model, just with text instead of GIFs.

Sure, I’d like to believe that if you just get enough smart people together and enough cash-money, wonderful things like Google Search and GMail can live on forever, for free. But in a mind-set like mine, whose tunnels and links are clogged up with worthless stock options like too much pork-fat in arteries, I start looking for the nitroglycerin pills when it’s all based on ads. How long can I go on eating hot-dogs and candy for free before I need to get out my wallet and pay up?

(Which raises an interesting point: how does Ray Ozzie’s plan for Microsoft pan out then?)

Categories: Companies.

Comment Feed

2 Responses

  1. Here’s the thing, ads can’t pay for the whole internet.

    But they probablly can pay for one megacorporation if said mega is serving all the ads for the entire internet.

    The question is, when the Internet is owned by Google (which is scary and comforting at once [that is, it’s in their business model at that point that they have to protect the internet, but that governments would have a location to actually attack the internet]), where do all the ads live?

    I wonder if God Emperor Brin the VIII will keep the “Do No Evil” motto as part of his reign over the Human Federation of Worlds.

  2. Nice post, balanced. Google’s doing lots of good things but its a business, not a “force for good” – now with shareholders that are keen to grow the stock price. In other words, Google’s future lies in compromise, not charity. I’d be prepared to make a number of “bets”:

    – Google will never own the Internet
    – Another, currently unheard of company will take on Google and win
    – There will be some high-profile falls taken by Google

    Lets all remember, we are still in the middle of something, not at the end.