Google and Its Possible Really, Really Big Ambitions

September 19, 2014

I read “Looking Past the Search Results: Google 2.0 Will Build Airports and Cities Says Report.” The “report” appears to be the work of an outfit doing business as “The Information.” The founder of The Information is Jessica E. Lessin. She was a Wall Street Journal reporter. She morphed into a “reportrepreneur.” (See About the Information for more about the company.)

The “report” costs money. The Independent’s summary of the main idea reveals:

Larry Page has set up a ‘company within a company’ dubbed ‘Google 2.0’ that will look at the tech giant’s long-term future – presumably for when advertising revenue from search traffic (inevitably) dries up.

The “report” suggests that Google may build airports and cities. I assume these will complement the Loon, Glass, Death, and other moon shot projects.

The Independent reports that Google may form Google Y Labs. No word on Google Z.

I must admit that when I saw the headline, someone had stumbled across my 2007 monograph published by a now defunct UK outfit. That monograph was called “Google Version 2.0.”

I was wrong. The 2014 version 2.0 moves into far more speculative realms than my modest effort to explore some of Google’s technical plumbing. That’s why there are no big thinkers in rural Kentucky. Better to be a big thinker, reportrepreneur.

My view is that Google faces some significant challenges; for example, the company has yet to find a fast ramp solution to the difference between old style online advertising based on the Yahoo/Overture/GoTo model for desktop computers and the new, limited screen real estate of mobile devices. Google has demonstrated that it is vulnerable to regulators in Europe. Google has lagged Amazon in the cloud market and most recently in buying a top level domain. Now Apple is probing Google in terms of its apparent willingness to trade on customer content. There are some other issues. Some are big like the management structure at Google. Some are small like the interpersonal interactions of a Google manager, a colleague, and the surprising departure of a wizard to Amazon.

Google is interesting because it seems to have fulfilled Steve Ballmer’s prophecy of the GOOG as a one trick pony. I think Google 3.0 may be a better name for the new “report.”

Stephen E Arnold, September 19, 2014


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