Tuesday, 04 October 2005 10:00

Google scaring the pants of rivals

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In just seven years, Google has morphed from a bare-bones online search engine into a technological octopus that seems to sprout another intriguing tentacle every other week, reports The Associated Press in the New York Times (3 October).

The company, with US$7.1 billion to spend thanks to zealous shareholder support, is now positioned to head down a variety of different paths. And that's spurring an almost-daily guessing game about where Google's flurry of innovation might lead, reports AP.

According to the report, internet and software rivals like Yahoo and Microsoft aren't the only ones tracking Google. Big media and telecommunications companies also are on the lookout, realising they too may face a looming threat.

AP says that the theories about Google's next move are all over the map. Is Google cobbling together an internet-driven computing platform that would challenge Microsoft's stranglehold on the personal computer? Is the company preparing to build a wireless network that would provide free internet access nationwide? Will Google dip into its huge hoard of cash to pull off a blockbuster deal?

There's a consensus on one overarching point: "Google wants to be everywhere that people are," said Danny Sullivan, who has followed the company closely as editor of the industry newsletter Search Engine Watch.

The AP/NYT report says that Google's long-range objectives remain obscure. Is the company simply exploring different ways to distribute the ads that generate virtually all of its revenue? Or is Google pursuing a much grander plan that ultimately will transform the way people work, communicate, shop, read and even watch TV, questions AP.

There's little doubt that Google is going to get much bigger, says AP., adding that the company made that clear last week when it announced plans to build a 1-million-square-foot campus just a few miles away from its 915,000-square-foot headquarters, known as the "Googleplex," on the grounds of NASA's Ames Research Center. Google needs the space for thousands of new workers and plans to draw on the brain power of NASA's rocket scientists. The new hires will join a payroll that already has nearly tripled in the past two years to 4,200 employees.

But, says AP,for all its growth, Google remains a relative midget alongside Microsoft, which employs 61,000 workers and holds nearly US$38 billion in cash. We might add that pundits were saying similat things 15 years ago, when comparing Microsoft to IBM.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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