Google Tesla: A New Play for the Final Frontier?

May 14, 2021

I read some real “news provided by Google Cloud”. The story was “Google Cloud and SpaceX’s Starlink to Deliver Secure, Global Connectivity.” The write up said:

Google Cloud and SpaceX today announced a new partnership to deliver data, cloud services, and applications to customers at the network edge, leveraging Starlink’s ability to provide high-speed broadband internet around the world and Google Cloud’s infrastructure. Under this partnership, SpaceX will begin to locate Starlink ground stations within Google data center properties, enabling the secure, low-latency, and reliable delivery of data from more than 1,500 Starlink satellites launched to orbit to-date to locations at the network edge via Google Cloud. Google Cloud’s high-capacity private network will support the delivery of Starlink’s global satellite internet service, bringing businesses and consumers seamless connectivity to the cloud and Internet, and enabling the delivery of critical enterprise applications to virtually any location.

Tweets ensued. Pundits pundited.

Most of the comments focused on the key words the wordsmiths at the GOOG included; for example:

  • Edge
  • Organizations
  • Private network
  • Rural
  • Seamless connectivity

Google knows what words are popular and elicit clicks. Very terrestrial.

However, the tie up — if it works out and does not get marginalized like Google’s Dodgeball, Orkut, and WebAccelerator efforts — could be something slightly more ambitious than connecting people to persistent advertising.

The deal makes the on-again, off-again lovebirds Google and Tesla the hot couple. The immediate payoff is publicity, usually good for a company’s stock price. The deal also may irritate some of the space-crazed wizards at Amazon, who also offer cloud services. Advertisers may like the idea of global delivery of compelling messages about vacation rentals, chicken sandwiches, and grammar checking software.

I see three different angles.

The first is that the Google – Tesla thing may represent a method for providing a new type of meta-fabric for innovation. If the service works, advertising may be available for those wanting to distribute messages globally to specific individuals who are going to buy something no matter where they are.

Second is that the service will be space-based. That alone provides a marketing and hyperbole edge. Even if the service burns up in the earth’s atmosphere, the deal is a juicy one. Think about those mid tier consultants writing “reports” this weekend. Boom. Consulting opportunities.

Third is that if the visions of the Musk-its (not Muscovites mind you) and the Googlers come to pass, we have a new type of information company in development. If the blended system works, the old AT&T is going to look even more old fashioned than it does at this time.

Net net: Satellites, a Saturday Night Live host, smart advertising, the “cloud” — what’s not to like? Will regulatory authorities buy the terrestrial spin in the Google news release? Probably. In the absence of regulatory controls, the sky’s the limit. Maybe I should say “the solar system” or maybe the “universe” is the limit. Amazon, Microsoft, Apple? Your move.

Stephen E Arnold, May 14, 2021

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