Google and World Domination

March 13, 2009

Ryan Singel’s “Google Voice Speaks of World Domination” here gave me a wake up call. Google’s prowess in telephony has been a topic that I long ago accepted. The company has had telephony and communications on its agenda from 1998. When we ran around the country in 2007 doing briefings about Google’s communications systems and methods, the attendees were eager to deny the Googlers’ cleverness in voice search (a Brin subspecialty) to cute ways to replicate a wireless infrastructure with low cost, low power gizmos and lots of innovation in between.

To be frank, slapping chat, SMS, and Skype-type comms into a Google “container” or service is not rocket science for Google. Sure, the company has to make sure that dependencies don’t befuddle its system or a line of code ruin a Googler’s lunch hour. The work is not invention; these are slipstreaming type features.

The title of the article–“Google Voice Speaks of World Domination”–was striking. The author Ryan Singel did a good job of explaining Google Voice, the “new” service that has the Twitterworld aflame. For me, the most important comment in the article after the title was:

Google Voice also threatens to disrupt voice-to-text startups like SpinBox, with built-in support for turning your voicemail messages into searchable text. Voice-to-text is one of the cornerstones of Google’s drive into mobile search. Google already uses the same technology to power GOOG-411 and the voice-activated search app for the iPhone. Getting even more samples — from messages left for users — will only help tune the algorithms for more lucrative ventures.

This paragraph makes clear the integration of the Google comms service and its disruptive potential, not just for smaller firms but for the big, telco dinosaurs. I say this with some affection since I was a Bell Labs’s contractor, worked on the Bellcore billing system for baby Bell charge backs, and also the USWest Yellow Pages service. Google is not a telco. Telco is just an application running on the Google infrastructure, what I call the Google infrastructure or Googleplex in honor of the buildings off Shoreline Drive.

Should you care? Yes, if you want to reduce for the short term your telecom hassles. Should the telcos caer? No, in my opinions telcos missed the train, and I don’t know when another will drop by Bell Head Station again. Should regulators care? Maybe. But regulators have a tough time understanding cable versus satellite TV so there’s a knowledge gap to fill. Should the blogosphere care? Absoltutely. Those who get it will carry Google type services to the future as the “obvious way” to perform certain functions.

Is this world domination? Not by Google in my opinion. The “legacy” of Google is that it shows the way cloud based services will supplant more widespread methods. Google’s legacy is that the company is a trail blazer. Others will follow and then go further. If this sounds like an interesting premise for a book, check out my 2005 The Google Legacy. This is the story I followed between 2002 and 2004 when I did my primary research. Old stuff to the addled goose. Just not world domination. That’s a reach in my view.


2 Responses to “Google and World Domination”

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