High Tech Tension: Sparks Visible, Escalation Likely

March 25, 2021

I read Google’s “Our Ongoing Commitment to Supporting Journalism.” The write up is interesting because it seems to be a dig at a couple of other technology giants. The bone of contention is news, specifically, indexing and displaying it.

The write up begins with a remarkable statement:Google has always been committed to providing high-quality and relevant information, and to supporting the news publishers who help create it.
This is a sentence pregnant with baby Googzillas. Note the word “always.” I am not certain that Google is in the “always” business nor am I sure that the company had much commitment. As I recall, when Google News went live, it created some modest conversation. Then Google News was fenced out of the nuclear ad machinery. Over time, Google negotiated and kept on doing what feisty, mom and pop Silicon Valley companies do; namely, keep doing what they want and then ask for forgiveness.

Flash forward to Australia. That country wanted to get money in exchange for Australian news. Google made some growling noises, but in the end the company agreed to pay some money.
Facebook on the other hand resisted, turned off its service, and returned to the Australian negotiating table.

Where was Microsoft in this technical square dance?

Microsoft was a cheerleader for the forces of truth, justice, and the Microsoft way. This Google blog post strikes me as Google’s reminding Microsoft that Google wants to be the new Microsoft. Microsoft has not done itself any favors because the battle lines between these two giants is swathed in the cloud of business war.

Google has mobile devices. Microsoft has the enterprise. Google has the Chromebook. Microsoft has the Surface. And on it goes.

Now Microsoft is on the ropes: SolarWinds, the Exchange glitch, and wonky updates which have required the invention of KIR (an update to remove bad updates).
Microsoft may be a JEDI warrior with the feature-burdened Teams and the military’s go to software PowerPoint. Google knows that every bump and scrape slows the reflexes of the Redmond giant.

Both mom and pop outfits are looking after each firm’s self interests. Fancy words and big ideas are window dressing.

Stephen E Arnold, March 25, 2021


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