I am a huge fan of Google as huge as it can get. Every application (at least till two years ago) that Google made has been absolutely superb and I gave my share of applause like thousands of others. Gmail was, is and probably always will be music to millions of its users. It's a different story that now they are going on the same road that Microsoft went on in late 90's and are coming with applications that do not deserve mentioning. Is the Google effect fading? How far can Google go from here?
The master of piggy back riding
Last year, there was this man in the news. This man had travelled half the world without a single penny in his pocket. He stayed at people's houses, made friends, took lifts and did everything he wanted to but at other's expense. His dream was to do a world tour and I am sure with his charm and tact he must have succeeded in that by now.
The Google story is the same. Create a platform. Get thousands of people to create content and then monetize on it through Adsense. Name any application of Google, it is likely to be piggy backing on something that has been generated by others. Blogger, Google News, Google Finance, Gmail, Youtube, Orkut, just name any product of Google
A case in point - Youtube
I have lost count on the number of lawsuits that have been filed on Youtube. I sometimes really wonder does Google really think Youtube is doing a favour by publishing somebody's else copyrighted video in the name of promotion? Especially when the other party has a problem with it.
On 10th May, YouTube service has been served yet another copyright infringement lawsuit, this time from David "Dawg" Grisman, who once recorded with The Grateful Dead. He filed a complaint seeking an unspecified amount of damages for the illegal posting of his videos. Grisman and his business partner, Craig Miller, claim the legal action is aimed at "helping independent musicians whose music is distributed without authorisation by YouTube's owner, Google Inc".
Last week, NBC Universal and Viacom have come out against YouTube in a legal case that could help to determine whether the video-sharing site is culpable for copyright violations committed by users.
I could go on and on with examples from every sphere of Google's products from Orkut, to YouTube to Google News. The point is, is Google not a party to violation of a copyright when its users are violating a copyright?
The flow of knowledge
Open source, creativity, sharing are beautiful words. The internet is based on them. Our society has been based on them for ages. The flow of knowledge in our society has been an open source and flowed through sharing.
But what happens when a commercial enterprise uses all this in its platform for profits. Google isn't really doing charity on Youtube or any of its other 'properties; and I am sure Google didn't really have charity in mind when they paid $1.65bn for this prized possession.
The internet is the most powerful media on earth today and every organisation wants to play Godfather. Control and dominance is the name of the game. The fact is Google today is the most powerful organisation in the most powerful media. The fact it has been able to challenge mighty Microsoft within such a short period itself speaks about the kind of power Google enjoys today. But how far will the current Google model take them?
Copyrights and more
Copyrights isn't such an ugly word as Google thinks it is. Artists, musicians and other creative people spend considerable time and energy creating works that come under intellectual property. Can an organisation just assume it is doing a favour to them by letting their platform be used for publishing their work without their approval? I hope Google remembers the Limewire and Napster ruling.
The last word
I think Google is a beautiful organisation. But I really wonder how far will they go? Ok Google apps is a beautiful transition Google has taken but will they really succeed in them with players like Microsoft and Sun around. Let's also not underestimate the Steve Ballmer effect. This man has done for Microsoft what probably his predecessor could have only dreamt of. Microsoft latest releases haven't really done as well they should have but the fact is atleast they have made a transition. What about Google? How far will the current Google story go I wonder?
Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at www.cyberzest.com and edits www.thebusinessedition.com you can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org