The Google Juggernaut is On Course

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Four years ago, journalist Tim Weber of the BBC asked whether the growing Google juggernaut had firm idea on where it wanted to go. After finding phenomenal success in an advertising-supported business model in search, many had began to wonder how Google could possibly sustain its growth specially in light of the softening online advertising market.

For a while, it seemed that Google was everwhere and nowhere. Google had developed or acquired a collection of products in everything from search, to webmail services, internet telephony and communications, online content aggregation and distribution, analytics, Maps, satellite images, automated alerts, online translations, specialised searches, online video and many others. While many of these services were useful and interesting, they lacked coherence and more importantly lacked a business model.

Recent announcements from the company have made its strategy for growth moving forward very clear. Just recently they have launched their own browser (Chrome), their owen mobile platform (Android), a new distributed communication and collaboration platform and protocol (Wave), online hosted apps (Google Apps), and now–even its own OS.

The company is going beyond search and online advertising company to becoming a platform company.

Where IBM was the dominant platform company at the time when centralized, monolithic computing was the norm, or where Microsoft dominated when computing shifted to the PC and the Client-Server paradigm, so now Google is positioning itself to be at the forefront as the industry again experiences a sea change in the move towards massively distributed, connected and open systems in the “Internet cloud.”

It would be interesting to see if Google becomes successful and displaces Microsoft as the alpha dog of the industry. It certainly is well positioned to do so, and would be interesting to see how the entire industry will change if  this happens.

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Does Google Wave Represent the next “Wave” in Communication and Collaboration?

I watched with interest the screencast of Google’s Announcement of their new product called “Google Wave” at the recently concluded Google I/O Conference. Google I/O is the search giant’s annual developer event in San Francisco and was the perfect venue for their launch of a product they envision to be a new platform and really brings with it a new paradigm for communication and collaboration.

Google Wave (currently in developer preview) essentially brings together in a single place all channels for communication or collaboration a user may need such as Email, IM, Blogging, Microblogging and others. So what you may ask? Aren’t there a lot of unified communication applications (ie Skype)/messaging aggregators (ie Digsby, Pidgin)/content management systems (ie Sharepoint) that do the same thing?

Well not quite. Google Wave (from my understanding) does it in a slightly different, and ultimately more interesting and clever way: they treat each type of communication (be it text, posts, images, videeo, URLs, etc.) as discrete objects, which can be be presented, manipulated, aggregated, and distributed in countless ways and in real-time. They have come up with their own protocol to allow for easier federation and aggregation, and possibly faster transmission, unencumbered by the “legacy” limitations of other communication protocols (such as email) or proprietary limitations of other protocols (such as IM and Skype). They allow “hooks” into that data so that third party developers can easily extend it (ie on-the-fly spell checking, translation) or integrate it with other applications (ie posting on blogs such as Blogger, posting in microblogs such as Twitter, presenting on social networks or portals such as Facebook or Orkut), and other forms of data (ie video and photos). They really thought out the user experience, and really push the boundaries of what can be done today by programming using the web (they use HTML 5 and use the Google Web Toolkit as their presentation framework).

The best thing about Google Wave? Its completely open (as in open standards and open source) so that there will be no encumbrance to (Google hopes) its wide spread adoption. You can deploy it on-premise (behind the corporate firewall) or use it in the cloud (on Google’s own servers) and federate the servers so that servers can still inter-operate or communicate. In that way it is similar to email.

Its difficult to describe just what  Google Wave is all about. Check out this video demonstration so you can see and learn more about it for yourself:

Google Losing (Massive Amounts of) Money in Youtube

Google may be losing up to $1.65M a Day on YouTube–this is according to an article by David Silversmith in his blog at Internet Evolution.

He bases his assessment from research provided by financial firm Credit Suisse and Internet measurement provider comScore Inc. According to their estimates, Youtube is on track to serve 75 billion video streams to 375 million unique visitors in 2009. From this amount of users and traffic, it is estimated they earn only anywhere from a low of $90 million (Bear Stearns) to a high of $240 million (Credit Suisse). Revenues come from adwords and home page banner advertising, and premium dedicated channel content.

To earn this however, they spend an estimated $753 million annually on bandwidth and infrastructure. So, depending on whose version of
revenues you accept, Google is losing anywhere from $513 million to
$663 million annually on YouTube, or anywhere from $1.4 million to as
much as $1.65 million every day (see chart below).

Internet Evolution – David Silversmith – Google Losing up to $1.65M a Day on YouTube

You can read more of David’s post here, or read a post from Technologizer, which expects Youtube to radically shift its strategy and content to survive.

Now if Youtube is having a hard time monetizing its massive user base and traffic–what does this bode for the site’s smaller competitors such as Veoh, Brightcove, and others? Or for that matter sites that offer free services such as Twitter. What does this say about the viability of businesses whose business model is around free and user-generated content?

Open Sourcing Google Desktop Gadgets

The Google Desktop team recently posted a blog entry on why they have released as open source code many of Google’s Desktop widgets:
 
Google Open Source Blog: Open Sourcing Google Desktop Gadgets

  • Source code can be a valuable learning tool. The gadgets not only show you how to develop Desktop gadgets, integrate with Google APIs, but also provide other tidbits of knowledge such as how to calculate phases of the moon or StarDates.
  • The images and graphics are also Open Sourced. Being an engineer, I know how frustrating it is to work hard on an application only to have it dismissed because of hand-drawn stick figures and shapes. We hope people can take advantage of our graphic designers’ talents. If you’re a fan of clocks, I have something right up your alley.
  • We get warm fuzzy feelings by simply supporting the cause. It fosters a spirit of openness and collaboration between the team and developer community.
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