Some thoughts about Google

miércoles, 25 de mayo de 2011 - Publicado por Manuel en 9:24
(This post is a short essay for the Master in Digital Business I´m enroled in, for the professor Enrique Dans)

What can be said about Google? Well, when a company becomes as ubiquitous and successful as the search engine one is, everyone has an opinion. Of course, each opinion will be slightly different, but on the overall, the majority of the Interweb users consider that Google is a really useful tool for surfing the Internet, including some people who consider that it is the Internet itself.

The Big Brother is watching you

Even if the strategy of continuous expansion and convergence (it is only a matter of time when Google launch its own telecom service) helped the company to reach its actual position, there are some challenges that the doodle has to face.

First of all, there are competitors. Always, especially on a channel where the switching costs are as low as they are online. Let´s imagine that next week a nerd in Silicon Valley announces a new search engine. Without ads, and which provided the best link the user was looking for as the first result. As the users started to talk about it, about how much better than Google it was. In a matter of years, maybe months, that engine would become the standard. And even if Google is not only a search engine, that is still its main source of revenues. And for a listed company, diminishing returns are always bad.

Another competitor of course, is Facebook. Being the website with the most time expent per user, FB is only a string of code away of developing a search engine of its own, thus offering its users a platform which there would be no need to leave. Never.

There is another issue concerning privacy. Even if Google always claims Net Neutrality and their own Neutrality when these problems arise, there could be a point when Google´s intention to get as much as information about the users, overcome the results that the users perceived. Voices would arise complaining about how scary Google is, and asking why Google have to take pictures of our houses, or file our MAC addresses. Maybe authorities would require Google to stop acquiring user data. And without information about our habits, Ad relevance would be much lower, so would be the company´s revenues.

Those would be the challenges Google has to face in the medium term. What about the long term?. Let´s project our minds 20 years in the future. The most feasible scenario would be an scenario where Internet connection is a universal right, where every single human is connected 24/7. Reached this point, governments would be the ones in charge of the infrastructure Internet required, or big telecom corporations. The challenge for Google then would be a physical one. Will Google have enough hardware support, and broadband, to provide every single human with the same services we are used to?. Considering the boom of cloud computing we are beholding these late years, I think this could be a big issue for a single company to handle.

Finally, the worst case scenario for Google. What if another platform, different than the Internet appears? A platform incompatible with the actual Net? Even though I think that Google´s actual main asset is their corporate culture, switching their whole exosystem to the new environment would be costly, maybe too much, and for sure it would require a time that other competitors could use to gain market share.