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If Search Is Google's Castle, Android Is the Moat

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the how-about-a-moat-full-of-androids dept.

Businesses 209

Hugh Pickens writes "Warren Buffet once said that the best businesses were economic castles protected by unbreachable moats. Now, Erick Schonfeld writes that if search is Google's economic castle, Android is a moat, Chrome browser is a moat, and Google Apps is a moat — all free products, subsidized by search profits, intended to protect the economic castle that is search. 'Android, as well as Chrome and Chrome OS for that matter, are not "products" in the classic business sense. They have no plan to become their own "economic castles,"' says Benchmark Capital VC Bill Gurley. 'They are not trying to make a profit on Android or Chrome. They want to take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free).' So don't measure the success of Google's new businesses by how much revenue or profit they generate directly but measure it by how much they shore up Google's core search business. 'Google is ... scorching the earth for 250 miles around the outside of the castle to ensure no one can approach it. And best I can tell, they are doing a damn good job of it.'"

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I LOVE ANALOGIES! (3, Insightful)

Shikaku (1129753) | about 3 years ago | (#35623998)

Where's badanalogyguy when you need him? Or pizzaanalogyguy?


Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624044)

I really miss both of them but especially the pizzaanalogyguy. He always made me LOL.

Speaking of old funny commenters, anyone know what happened to the turd report guy?


Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624180)

Android :: Google
Khloe :: Kim
--Kim Kardashian Analogy Guy


Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624214)

Sorry, I don't follow the Kardashians. Their asses are just too damned fat.

And the captcha is "erectors" which their asses are not.


castleanalogyguy (2026938) | about 3 years ago | (#35624066)

I think gmail is the drawbridge, crossing the moat from the other kingdoms directly into google's search castle


sakdoctor (1087155) | about 3 years ago | (#35624176)

Google Alerts is a watch tower, and Analytics is for planning a defence. If the invaders managed to cross the moat, FeedBurner can be poured of them as a last line of defence.
Google Buzz, URL Shortener and Blog Search are for torturing and extracting information from captured soldiers.


davester666 (731373) | about 3 years ago | (#35624426)

And with Google Wave continuously going around the moat, ready to wash away anybody who dares entering the moat.

OT. Slashdot adoption. (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | about 3 years ago | (#35624276)

Wow, I didn't suspect we're at least 26,938 accounts past the 2 million mark.
On a related note... Enjoy your brand new username! ;)

origin of eunuchs; are there more than before? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624154)

thought to be an unusual quirk, result of illness, nutless wonders now prevade the population, even still carrying their heritage.

to note; eunuchism was 'created' through experimental (religious rituals, keeping the #s 'right') breeding, as well as torture/castration.

as a spin-off, everybody knew that disloyalty to the royals (no matter what they do) could easily result in being introduced to eunuchism.

helps when wondering about the origin of the current rulers' eugenics 'programs'. search results may vary. as soon as the truth starts to appear, it's easy to spot.


Re:origin of eunuchs; are there more than before? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624478)

One of the guys at the local LUG, "Bruce" (not his real name), he's a eunich. He was into linux as soon as he found it. Got a penguin tattoo, has a framed autographed email from Linux on his wall. He took the plunge and had his balls cut off, too. I don't understand his line of thinking (he's a little crazy), but he wanted to devote his life to Linus and thought that would help. Not like he would have needed his balls for anything else, but it's weird.

Posting anonymously because he reads /. (and has a /. tatt)

Exactly! Why use an analogy in this case? (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 3 years ago | (#35624280)

Analogies are useful for explaining complex concepts to people using concepts that they're already familiar with.

What's complex about Google's business?

YOU are the product. Google sells YOUR eyeballs to advertisers.

Google attracts YOUR eyeballs by offering YOU "free" services. "Free" in that you do not pay for them.

Just look at /. !!! You can use it for free. The owners sell ads. You can also pay for the service.

Fuck castles and moats and all the other analogies. The analogies are more complex than the concept they're supposed to be explaining.

Re:Exactly! Why use an analogy in this case? (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 3 years ago | (#35624664)

Or it could be that you missed the entire point of the article. The point of the article is that the only product that Google really cares about is search, and that everything else is just filler that doesn't even have to be bring in any revenue on its own. From that perspective, the analogies are actually quite illuminating.

Re:Exactly! Why use an analogy in this case? (3, Informative)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 3 years ago | (#35624734)

You missed the point of what khasim was saying. Yes, search is their core product that is presented to the public, but their revenue is driven by their advertising. The more people search, the more targeted ads they see. Their real core product is advertising and has been ever since they went public.

Re:Exactly! Why use an analogy in this case? (3, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 3 years ago | (#35624978)

The part I don't get is how Android, Chrome and Chrome OS is "scorching the earth for 250 miles around Google". What are those offerings doing that prevent a viable search competitor from rising?

you need a car analogy (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 3 years ago | (#35624648)

if google search is a dune buggy in a mad max movie, chrome is the leather clad hockey mask wearing psychopath in the gun turret, and android is that weird dude with the japanese mask suspended above his head snarling and leaping from one vehicle to the next. microsoft is tina turner. apple is mel gibson. do you understand yet?

Re:you need a car analogy (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 3 years ago | (#35624992)

So OSX is Max's V8 Interceptor? Sort of makes sense. It is expensive to run and only does one or two things well. Minix must be the gyrocopter.

How Many Moats ... (0)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 3 years ago | (#35624002)

How many of their moats can fit in the Library of Congress?

Re:How Many Moats ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624040)

Not the moats... it's the moors, you idiot!

The Moor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624918)

The sigh of summer upon my return
Fifteen alike since I was here
Bathed in deep fog, blurring my trail
Snuffing the first morning rays

Weary from what might have been ages
Still calm with my mind at peace
Would I prosper or fall, drain the past
The lapse of the moment took it's turn

I was foul and tainted, devoid of faith
Wearing my death-mask at birth
The hands of God, decrepit and thin
Cold caress and then nothing
I was taken away from my plight
A treason bestowed to the crowd
Branded a jonah with fevered blood
Ungodly freak, defiler

Pale touch, writhing in the embers
Damp mud burning in my eyes
All the faces turned away
And all would sneer at my demise

Outcast with dogmas forged below
Seared and beaten, banished from where I was born
No mercy would help me on my way
In the pouring rain nothing is the same

Vows in ashes
I pledge myself to no-one
Seethed and spiteful
All shudder at the call of my name
If you'll bear with me
You'll fear of me

There is no forgiveness in these eyes
For any of you but one
Dispel the mist for now
Melinda is the reason why I've come

She is waterdrops over the pyre
A thistle in my hands
Stained and torn, aged and brown
Virtous shell with kindred innocense

I awoke from the miasma
Passing swiftly through the moor
This is here, waters stir
And in the distance all that was lost
If you'll bear with me
You'll fear of me
You'd never leave me to
A fate with you

Re:How Many Moats ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624098)

I think you mean how many LoCs can fit in their moat!

Google is the best company ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624006)

Everyone remember: Google promises that they will do no evil, so you know it's true. After all... they say so.

Re:Google is the best company ever (4, Insightful)

redemtionboy (890616) | about 3 years ago | (#35624084)

So a company having a successful business model and dominating the market is evil? Got it. If all markets were dominated by companies like Google, the world would be a much better place. Are they perfect? No. But they're trying dammit.

Re:Google is the best company ever (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624330)

You must be a troll. People aren't upset at their market dominance per-se, it's their policies (or lackthereof) with respect to privacy that has people concerned. You claim they're trying -- in what way? Everything they do is to feed their machine.

Re:Google is the best company ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624386)

So a company having a successful business model and dominating the market is evil? Got it. If all markets were dominated by companies like Google, the world would be a much better place. Are they perfect? No. But they're trying dammit.

They are trying their damndest to mine every ounce of user info, behaviour and privacy information, yes. Their leader have even said outright that you should forget about privacy. From pioneering the immortal cookie and indefinite data retention to building an ad and analytics network to accumulate and map cross-network user data, and driving cars around to map wifi data. The funny thing about Slashdot and Google is that though Google's business (only business) is being an advertising company based on aggregating and mining user info (which we normally would despise), we are willing to look the other way because their tools to reach and mine us are cool.

Re:Google is the best company ever (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#35624590)

So a company having a successful business model and dominating the market is evil? Got it. If all markets were dominated by companies like Google, the world would be a much better place. Are they perfect? No. But they're trying dammit.

Oh please, stop white-knighting for the multi-billion dollar international corporation. They aren't trying to be a force for good in the world. They're trying to make money.

Re:Google is the best company ever (2)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | about 3 years ago | (#35624958)

So a company having a successful business model and dominating the market is evil? Got it. If all markets were dominated by companies like Google, the world would be a much better place. Are they perfect? No. But they're trying dammit.

Oh please, stop white-knighting for the multi-billion dollar international corporation. They aren't trying to be a force for good in the world. They're trying to make money.

Google does try to advertise itself as a force for good and that is part of the sales pitch to prospective recruits. There is some truth to it: in general, more open is more good. In general, don't be evil is a mighty good rule to live by. Now if veteran Googlers would just take that seriously, not just the starry eyed recruits, then Google might avoid going down the morality drain as Microsoft did.

Re:Google is the best company ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624768)

No, it wouldn't really be a better place, you're just paying more attention to what they say than what they do. What people are upset about is precisely the disconnect between what Google says it stands for, and what it actually does when those values are put to the test. Google is talking like a do-gooder that is concerned about improving society just as much as making a profit, and trying to profit from all the goodwill that generates, but it is acting like a typical business. See their position on net neutrality. They're all for it, except when it threatens their business interests. Then they want to say "it's complicated" and "maybe sometimes Net Neutrality isn't the best thing". Or how when it comes to their profits, they do some math to shift most of their costs to the US (so that they can get the tax breaks), but shift most of their profits to Ireland, so they don't have to pay taxes on them. A slick business strategy to maximize profits? Yes. Is using tax loopholes to dodge taxes socially responsible and ethical? I don't think so. It's an attempt to take as much from society as possible, while returning as little as possible. It's how many companies work, but a socially responsible one?

Same with their position on open source. After using open source as the differentiator between iOS and Android, they're dodging open source development when it's not in their best interests. With Honeycomb, they're saying that only a small number of vendors can benefit from it and participate in it's development. Eventually we'll get "Ice Cream", but it will probably be a while. Again, they can do what they want, it just conflicts with past vocal and emphatic statements from them about how critical open source is and how it's best for everyone to have an open development model. When you take a stance like that, the principled approach is to take the good with the bad because you really believe in it.

Bottom line: if Google said "hey, we're a business, and we're going to do whatever it takes to protect our interests", then I don't think people would be so upset. But they sing the praises of open source and put "do no evil" as their core business statement, but they seem to be a bit squeamish about backing that talk up with actions when those principles and values don't jive with their corporate best interests.

Re:Google is the best company ever (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 years ago | (#35624996)

No, it wouldn't really be a better place

But it might be a less bad one.

Really, there are a lot of corporations and governments out there that are much worse. You don't have to be perfect to pull the average up,

Re:Google is the best company ever (5, Insightful)

Zandamesh (1689334) | about 3 years ago | (#35624130)

Everyone remember: Google promises that they will do no evil, so you know it's true. After all... they say so.

Well, if I had to pick which one of the major software companies is the least evil, it would be Google. They're open source friendly, create innovative products, I've never read of Google patent trolling other companies, they generally have a good reputation.

Re:Google is the best company ever (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#35624690)

Everyone remember: Google promises that they will do no evil, so you know it's true. After all... they say so.

Well, if I had to pick which one of the major software companies is the least evil, it would be Google. They're open source friendly, create innovative products, I've never read of Google patent trolling other companies, they generally have a good reputation.

Google also gives you free stuff and helps you find porn. How much questioning are you going to do of it?

By the power of Googleskull (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624024)

I have the search results! G-Man and the Searchers of the Internet.

So they're being anticompetitive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624046)

...and the only reason why they're not called to account like Microsoft is that they're not considered a monopoly yet? IIRC "Windows" has never been synonymous with operating system, but "to google" is not just synonymous with but also the preferred way of saying "to search the web".

Re:So they're being anticompetitive (5, Insightful)

ZankerH (1401751) | about 3 years ago | (#35624096)

IIRC "Windows" has never been synonymous with operating system

For the sole reason that MS's target audience can't tell the difference between an OS, a computer and a browser.

Re:So they're being anticompetitive (5, Informative)

lrobert98 (1936734) | about 3 years ago | (#35624152)

Just because they have most of the search market doesn't mean they're being anticompetitive. They're just the best at what they do, for now. As soon as some other company invents the next great search engine, there's nothing Google will be able to do to keep people from defecting if they so choose. Contrast that with Windows where moving away to something else can be difficult or impossible depending on the software needs of the end user.

Besides, I thought Google's main focus was advertising, and search was just a delivery vehicle, just like Android, Docs, and everything else they give away for free.

Re:So they're being anticompetitive (2)

hazydave (96747) | about 3 years ago | (#35624344)

Google's main revenue stream is advertising. Their main focus are web-based software technology products, particularly search. Much the same way that ABC or CBS also have a main revenue stream from advertising, but their main focus are entertainment video products.

Re:So they're being anticompetitive (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35624392)

Search isn't an issue, Google isn't the first company to dominate the search market, the real problem is the advertising market. Ad space gets more valuable the more eyes look at it, consequently, advertising is a market where you shouldn't be allowed to buy out the competition, especially if you're the number one firm buying out the number two. Now that that's been done, there had to be consolidation of the rest of the market just to compete.

Hence why we've got the Clayton Antitrust Act and why Google is such a menace.

But yes, in terms of the search market it's really not that big of a problem.

Re:So they're being anticompetitive (2, Informative)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | about 3 years ago | (#35624286)

Microsoft's strategy has been establishing a lock-in to the Microsoft ecosystem. Google strategy is to disrupt lock-ins that would in turn potentially disrupt access to their core businesses.

We're still talking big business with both Google and Microsoft. But those who point out that Google is such a business and everything is about making money are missing the point. Google's actions might not be entirely altruistic but their strategy is considerably more in line with consumer rights, and many hacker sensibilities, than most in the industry.

Re:So they're being anticompetitive (4, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 3 years ago | (#35624382)

They're very good at ensuring you're not locked in to them as well. You can export your data from pretty much any of their services. I think I read a while back where they have a 'free data team' whose job it is to ensure that's the case. Damn nice to see.

Re:So they're being anticompetitive (2)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about 3 years ago | (#35624536)

Look at it like this: people always ask for a Kleenex, but Kimberly-Clark Worldwide Inc. is not a monopoly, even though there branding is synonymous with 'facial tissue' in common language. Same with dozens of other products; band-aid, Xerox, Asprin, velcro, and many others, its a genericized trademark. While most companys fight tooth and nail to prevent this from happening to there trademarks, Google has sort of let it slide.
Now, If Google was out buying up and/or forcing other search engines out of business (which it really has not, sure, some have fallen by the wayside, but there are more search engines than you can shake a stick at still) THEN it would be a monopoly.

less than free? (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 3 years ago | (#35624092)

How can something be less than free? In my experience, even the free stuff isn't really free, since you have to invest time (like TV with the ~20 mins/hour of ads). The only truly free stuff is ad free as well (such as the various FM-HD2 stations)*

So less than free means what? *They* pay *me*? I remember the paid-to-surf companies, but I never got a dime out of them, since they went bankrupt.

* example: http://provisioning.streamtheworld.com/pls/WWMXHD2DIALUP.pls [streamtheworld.com]
http://1681.live.streamtheworld.com/WWMXHD2DIALUP_SC [streamtheworld.com]

Re:less than free? (1)

Lokitoth (1069508) | about 3 years ago | (#35624138)

In essence, TFA is arguing that Google, by sharing Marketplace revenue with the device manufacturers, on top of providing stock Android "free," is providing Android for "less than free." I am not entirely convinced by the argument; I remember hearing or reading somewhere that in order for the company to install the Google suite of applications or to be able to the the phone as "Powered by Google" they had to license something. Never very clear. So The free part might be susepct. As well, it is not very clear that the revenues from the Marketplace are significant.

In any case, it is interesting to read about the way even "free" Android is disrupting the market of mobile operating systems.

Re:less than free? (4, Interesting)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 3 years ago | (#35624144)

Yeah, I think less than free is meant to imply "them" paying "you" in the sense that Google will pay you to use their products. And frankly, they already do that to some extent. There are folks on YouTube with sponsored, or registered or partnered channels or something like that. Google pays those folks to keep producing YouTube content. Google AdSense is set up in such a way that you can slap it on your own blog or website or whatever and get paid to have random people click on the useless shit you have to spout off into the internet voids. I would even wager, though I am not entirely certain, that Google probably is willing to pay out some cash to Android app developers whose apps are used enough to generate advertising revenue were they to include some kind of embedded ad with the app.

So yes, Google "gives" you stuff for less than free in the same sense that your employer gives you the tools you need to do your job for "less than free." They pay you to utilize the tools they want you to use to produce a product that generates more profit for them.

Re:less than free? (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | about 3 years ago | (#35624604)

They might increase or subsidise the value of the clicks though those apps. I bet that Android's Angry Birds is 100% ad revenue. Maybe some of that is partnership with Google.

Re:less than free? (2)

bostongraf (1216362) | about 3 years ago | (#35624164)

Google provides API's that allow programmers to include ads in the software being distributed on Android. That API is "less than free" because the programmer can definitely make money off if it.

Android no longer "The Moat" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624094)

It's part of the Castle, or for you ESR fans part of the "Cathedral".

Google has essentially closed off the open-source Honeycomb project to outside development. I think /. is out of the loop. The fact wasn't even covered here.

Read all about it here [arstechnica.com]

Also, there's a funny parody account [twitter.com] on Twitter exposing Google's hypocrisy by withholding the source for honeycomb.

Re:Android no longer "The Moat" (1)

hazydave (96747) | about 3 years ago | (#35624926)

We'll see. So far, this is Google's standard operating procedure for any major release, and even some minor ones.

In the past, as now, they partnered with exactly one OEM, on one hardware platform, for the new release. For Honeycomb, this was Motorola and the Xoom tablet, and sure, Motorola most likely paid for the special treatment. But this is smart on Google's part -- they have exactly one platform to worry about, and they have direct involvement from that hardware's developer.

On the day the Xoom shipped, the other major OEMs got access to the Honeycomb source code. This is the same thing Google did before... OEMs had the source weeks or even months before it went hot on source.android.com.

Presumably, after some time between Google and the OEMs, they'll put the Honeycomb source out for everyone else. This is the same progression that happened in the past, though definitely looks like it's going to take longer. Could be that they're waiting for more tablet ports to be done (with bug feedback), could be they're foot-dragging until "Ice-Cream" is completed, which is widely rumored to be the unified phone/tablet version of Honeycomb.

Of course, if Google drags this out, it's going to look back for their open source commitment. Thing is, they really don't have a choice, and there's no real indication they have any problem continuing with that. I think they're looking to use the Google + OEM development process for early development, rather than deal with outside input, at least unit they have 3.0.0 out on multiple devices.

So it's saying that Android (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624116)

is almost swamplike, filled with disease, crocodiles, and other hazards?

Search isn't the product. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624136)

If it's been said once, it's been said a million times. Search isn't the product. Viewers are the product and they're being sold to advertisers. The moats are there to keep you in, not to keep other people out.

Re:Search isn't the product. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624252)

Obammy has a real boner for Google. As a radical leftist, I'm sure he has wet dreams about using Google to micromanage every aspect of every citizen's life.

stuck in the moat, can't afford castle listing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624256)

there you go? the system is working as designed. there's quite a crowd forming in the moat, which makes the castle owners bristle with excitement. that's what we're here for.

Re:Search isn't the product. (5, Insightful)

bgarcia (33222) | about 3 years ago | (#35624338)

If it's been said once, it's been said a million times. Search isn't the product. Viewers are the product and they're being sold to advertisers.

Yes! Someone who gets it!

The moats are there to keep you in, not to keep other people out.

Wait, what???? No, no, no!
Look, Google does a damn good job of giving advertisers targeted viewers.
And they get LOTS of viewers because the viewers like the products that Google entices them with (search), and are willing to pay the cost (advertisements).
Google doesn't have to keep anybody in - the people want to be there!

So what does Google perceive as a threat?
Simple - anything (and I mean anything) that keeps people from being able to access their products.
Browsers suck? Well, let's build a browser that's fast. Google doesn't care if it wins the market, as long as all the other browsers become faster in an effort to compete.
Cell phones too locked down? Let's make an open operating system for phones, and make sure that at least one phone model is standard setting. Google doesn't care if that phone wins the market, as long as it sets a standard for all the other smartphones.

Perhaps the analogy works better if you say that search is the castle, the competitors keep people from the castle with their moats, and Google's ancillary products are the various drawbridges made to make sure the plebs can always access the castle.

Re:Search isn't the product. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35624414)

It's easy to give targeted viewers when the competition doesn't have enough viewers to be able to subsegment in a way that still has enough volume to be meaningful.

Re:Search isn't the product. (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35624548)

Google doesn't have to keep anybody in - the people want to be there!

First off, quite a few users will use whatever search engine is in their browser - that's Bing's market share right there. If you get word out Chrome or Firefox is better, you also won a Google search user. Second or as a consequence of the first, who controls the defaults matter. Google has a deal with Mozilla, obviously they don't need a deal with themselves. Less money spent and no risk they'll partner with someone else.

So they put up a Google platform for cell phones. You want to ship a cellphone on that platform but with a different search engine? Sure you can, but you know they won't because you never step on your partner's toes without reason. Google wouldn't react formally but your service level would take a hit, everybody knows you'd get a lower priority. I think Google has a pretty good idea of what they're doing...

Re:Search isn't the product. (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#35624816)

> No!


Google is the ultimate walled garden. They built a wall around the entire fucking Web. You can't even opt-out. Privacy? Change your name.

Just compare Google Search to Blekko. For 1 week, do all your searches in both. You will see that Google Search is feeding you the sites with the most Google ads, not the most relevance.

And when they clone something and give it to you for free with their ads on it, that is like Microsoft cloning something and giving it to you for free with your Windows license. It's to keep you in the garden.

Compare to Apple, the devices have the best W3C, ISO, and other interoperability standards support, and there is an app for everything, from everyone. Netflix has 96% of Internet movies and has apps on all iOS devices, including Apple TV. Apple is the only name brand PC with UNIX, with hundreds of open source projects. Google itself is 75% Macs.

Ironically, you are inside Google's Reality Distortion Field, where inside their closed system, everything is "open".

So the OP is right. The free accessory products to Search are to keep users in, not to keep competitors out.

Re:Search isn't the product. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 3 years ago | (#35624890)

Google does care about winning in for example the cellphone market. If Windows Phone 7 were the winner, that would mean a lot more search revenue for Bing at the expense of Google. If iOS won, then their continued search revenue would depend on them continuing to persuade apple to keep them as the default search provider and mapping service.

Re:Search isn't the product. (1, Interesting)

NoSig (1919688) | about 3 years ago | (#35624416)

Google sells two products - it sells search for eyeballs and it sells eyeballs for money.

Re:Search isn't the product. [Panopticon is] (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | about 3 years ago | (#35624760)

Google is a honey pot for what was previously inaccessible to advertisers: Every detail and statistic about your personal online life. If your a gmail user, the content of your personal emails, if your a latitude user, exactly where you go and if you are a Google Voice user, all your private phone calls. All an awesome mine of data, thats now extending into the real world. So viewers aren't the product, it's the detail of your life that is highly desirable and invaluable to anyone who wants to get at your money and your attention.

While they can't exactly hand over the exact details of your life to whoever pays for it, they can pass on what they learn from it.

In this regard Facebook, Twitter, and Apple are castles also.

Prison is more apt than castle I would have thought. Then I corrected myself, Panopticon [wikipedia.org] is more apt.

Re:Search isn't the product. (1)

izomiac (815208) | about 3 years ago | (#35624864)

That's more true, and cliche'd, with television advertising. With Google there's a subtle difference that's lost with the conflation. The demarcation between content generators and content consumers on the internet is very fuzzy. Google connects both, somewhat like a phone company or an employer, which makes its users both the product and the customer. IOW, if nobody used Google's Search, it'd be terrible, as it's improved by user efforts, which is a form of payment. OTOH, who cares? They're just arbitrary words which only contrivedly define the relationship between Google, Internet Users, and Adsense Customers. There's no apparent underlying truth that's revealed by sawing off the edges of shapes to make them fit into predefined pegs.

Google. (1)

pro151 (2021702) | about 3 years ago | (#35624150)

I have said it before and I stand by it. Google is Skynet to Windoze and the rotten Apple. Balmer and Jobs should be afraid. Very afraid.

Sorry, I do not understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624160)

This is /., can you put that in terms of a car analogy?

Someone's mis-identified the castle (2)

Angostura (703910) | about 3 years ago | (#35624212)

Now, I've only read the summary, but it strikes me that Search is *not* Google's castle. Ad sales is the castle, search is the ... the... quarry from which the rocks that build the castle are derived. Handily enough, the quarry is circular and moat-shaped.

Re:Someone's mis-identified the castle (3, Interesting)

ashvagan (885082) | about 3 years ago | (#35624246)

Search drives Ad sales, which makes it the core of Google. They usually don't link any of their products with ad sales directly. So I believe identifying Search as the castle is still correct. Search is to Ad sales as Castle is to "safe and well-being"

so one could live in the moat & be a rock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624352)

how much does that cost? still outside the castle? starting to feel a little eunuchy. how much to be an inside rock? doorknob?

what's hurting them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624220)

A lot of people talk about "job destruction" -- Google is a relatively young company and is really taking the worst that the archaic and corrupt US systems of lobbying, political corruption, and the flawed patent office can dish out, and they are still surviving.

It's really david vs. goliath, and you can't help but wonder if they are going to become the next netscape -- young, innovative, minimally evil, hugely popular, yet destined to fail solely due to their misfortune of being born into a fetid, diseased intellectual property environment, one loaded with soft money, player hierarchies, endless litigation scabs, and news organizations that are more focused on clicks than reality or facts.

Hey look at the news for the last couple of days -- Android 3.0 is going to be closed source, and google is therefore evil, Steve Jobs was right after all. The newsies spread their proganda well, don't they?

Google employees will gnash their teeth (1)

kfsone (63008) | about 3 years ago | (#35624346)

"That's NOT why we...".

For most given Google employees, Android, Chrome, Google Apps... These are beasts they have poured themselves into to make the computing world a better world...

Kinda like a whole lot of other minions based out of Seattle ;)

The One Google Laptop per Human Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624368)

Following that analogy to the extreme, Google should give us "free" hardware and "free" connection access to use their "free" software, then the Google Castle would be complete.

GooglePad, GooglePhone anybody?
If they were giving away "free" hardware to run their "free" software would the general public say no?
Based on the way they are sucking up "free" social media services I would say the entire planet would blindly jump on it. ...though I am sure Richard Stallman would not take up the offer.
my 2c.

No, this is not what Buffett means by "moats" (1, Interesting)

pongo000 (97357) | about 3 years ago | (#35624374)

This is not what Buffett meant, and anyone who follows Buffett knows that "moats" are the IP, patents, and low-cost advantages [morningstar.com] (among other things) that protect a company's business assets. Chrome OS, Android, etc. do nothing to "widen the moat" (other than maybe some name recognition). Slashdot editors: Please do your jobs and edit. This is a bad article that deserves to be ignored as worthless drivel by a Google shill.

which math does king buffet use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624794)

whereas he gets billions, much of it from 'investments' in weapons peddlers, eugenatics' schemes, insurance (the most ungodly of fear based usury scams) etc... so his moat looks like it's absolutely full of eunuchs, who will never see the castle, as it's absolutely full of wonderful glorious surprise, but only if one is chosen. does he not know there's 1000's of innocent folks getting killed every day now to make the bottom line 'look' just ok? probably not?

Never mind the analogy, but the point is true (5, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | about 3 years ago | (#35624376)

What impresses me the most about Google is that they, as a company, have consistently taken actions that demonstrate long-term thinking. They will try things that have no short-term profit, just because in the long run they might either make a profit or defend the company's interests.

From the beginning, Google has helped Firefox out financially; more recently, Google made its own web browser. Why? Because it wasn't in Google's best interest for Microsoft to have any kind of leverage over the Internet, or in particular over which search engine is the default on computers. Remember how much market share Internet Explorer used to have? Displacing it once seemed hopeless, but Google went for it.

Google has poured resources into Android and continues to give it away. Why? Because it wasn't in Google's best interest for Apple to have leverage over the cell phone market, or in particular over which search engine is the default on cell phones.

Google spent about $100 million to buy On2, and then gave away the intellectual property they had bought. Why? Because the FSF wrote an open letter... nah, just messing with you to see if you are paying attention. Because, in the long run, Google's YouTube needs a suitable video format. If YouTube's business utterly depends on patented technology such as H.264, Google will have no choice but to comply with any and all demands from the licensing authority. Google is willing to not only spend the $100 million, but to pay more people to keep working on WebM (doing things like free reference designs for hardware decoders). Google doesn't ever expect to make money on WebM; it's purely a defensive move, to control long-term costs in the future. (Well, also, Google has lots of geeks like us who want to help keep web standards open.)

Heck, go all the way back to the early days of Google. They took the time to write a complete vertically integrated software stack, one which allowed them to get reliable performance out of dirt-cheap off-the-shelf hardware. The reason Sun was printing money during the Internet boom was that everybody who wanted a web server would buy an expensive, reliable Sun box to run it on; not Google, they used the High Availability stuff on Linux, and the elegant Google MapReduce, to weld together masses of cheap motherboards into a powerful and reliable server operation.

Remember the news stories about Google buying up the "dark fiber"? Google bought a bunch of optical fiber with no immediate use. Long-term thinking: "the stuff is cheap now; we have the money now; someday we'll have a use for this."

Google has a lot of other products and features, but for the most part those are just fun sidelines. When you are as big as Google, you can afford to do some side projects just for the heck of it, and all the better if they actually turn a profit.


Re:Never mind the analogy, but the point is true (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 3 years ago | (#35624718)

Thank you, someone finally gets it. Maybe you could have word with all the analysts who consider the Nexus a massive flop on Google's part. They just don't understand that the point of the Nexus isn't to make a profit, it's to establish a standard implementation that makes Android a viable competitor to the iPhone. Because Google knew that at some point, Apple would want to create their own ad network on the iPhone, and Google would be cut off from that. Apple did, but by then, Android had established itself as a viable competitor to the iPhone, and the threat to Google's core revenue was dramatically lessened.

If anything, Google should be the gold standard for how to grow a company through long-term strategic investment. Youtube? Turned out brilliantly. Android? Same. There have been flops along the way (Wave), but the successes are responsible for keeping Google from becoming a Yahoo.

Cute analogy, but... (2)

zill (1690130) | about 3 years ago | (#35624400)

Then why would google publish an API that allows you to access their search back-end directly [google.com] then? Why would Google offer an underground tunnel to their impenetrable "castle" for free?

Re:Cute analogy, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624496)

Hardly free. 100 queries per day, unless you pay for more...

Peeping in a window with a telescope from a hill a quarter mile away, at best.

Re:Cute analogy, but... (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | about 3 years ago | (#35624676)

Why would Google offer an underground tunnel to their impenetrable "castle" for free?

I think that's just a plot device so the hero can sneak into the castle to rescue the princess.

Re:Cute analogy, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624980)

Yes, you mean the "trial" of 100 queries a day? And if you need more, you'll have to buy them at $5 / 1000 queries.
The underground tunnel has a toll booth in the middle. And it's still impenetrable.

Search is NOT their business (0, Redundant)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 3 years ago | (#35624404)

Google's business is selling you, the product, to their customers, the advertisers.

Search is their usury facade (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624494)

agreed. search manipulation is their 'business' (there can be only one #1?) how much is that? so, having a good product has nothing to do with google's impression of you, which is from none, all the way to delisting, so a search for your (very possible superior) product cannot render accurate results by keyword, unless you pay goo-goo a usury/hostage fee. couldn't agree more.

Search profits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624420)

Surely the OP means advertising revenue. Search is the tool that focuses that advertising.

Google wins with the right economic model (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about 3 years ago | (#35624586)

The marginal cost of software, and even software services, approaches zero. The marginal value of a consumer's attention does not approach zero.

Give away software and software services, sell the attention of your users.


Can I ask a question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35624624)

Can I ask a question? But then how do you explain why Google wants to develope Google-car which drives to the destination for men?

I agree with most of your points. Maybe Google is doing all "not-evil" things for her search business, but she may be the most successful one in hiding her intension. Many people admire this company, including me, in offering alternatives against Apple and other autarchical institutions.

Maybe the leaders in Google are freemasonry?

Not doing a good job (1)

gig (78408) | about 3 years ago | (#35624688)

Google's brand used to be gold, now it is shit. They were seen as doing no wrong, but now it is the opposite. They used to be lauded for simplifying search and making it accessible, now they are known for complicated products. Their search engine is a spam engine.

I use Blekko for search, because it is the best, yet costs the same as Google. It is so much better than Google! I use Apple devices because they are the best, yet cost the same (or less) as their competitors. Even a free Android phone has a larger monthly bill than an iPhone and ends up more expensive. A XOOM is more expensive than an iPad in both retail and monthly, and does much less. A high-end generic PC has viruses and no UNIX and yet is the same price or more than a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. I use MobileMe email, it is better than Gmail and they don't read my email or share my contacts, that means it's cheaper overall even though they charge a few bucks for it. Further, Google has no idea about design or art, because they have no artists and no designers. They have no idea about consumers, they continue to search for nerds to build for, but nerds are a small minority of the tech world now, and lots of nerds are tired of configuring things every time they want to watch a movie or play a game or do some computing. Nerds are tired of getting spammed also. So even nerds are using Apple devices and Blekko and so on.

And why do Google's ads look so shitty? Facebook apps and iAds are only about 10,000 times more engaging.

So Google is beat on price, value, privacy, design, consumer-readiness, and engagement. How exactly is that a great big castle?

And they have a CEO with no experience, are bleeding talent to Facebook. They are in court with all kinds of things.

And how is Android impenetrable? It's basically owned by Oracle and Microsoft. It isn't even good open source. Compare it to WebKit, which is used by Apple's competitors, not just their partners.

I think we are just at the end of the Google era of the Web and it is hard for a lot of people to admit that party is over, even though they see the evidence of their own eyes.

User != Customer (4, Insightful)

crf00 (1048098) | about 3 years ago | (#35624838)

Although there are already many startup advices that ask entrepreneurs to identify who is their customers, it is only until recently I understand what it really means.

Customers are the people who pay you money, and products are the things that your customers is paying for. People who *don't* pay you are not your customers, and things that you give away for free is not your products.

Web technology companies have more complicated business models because it is usually not just about building something that you call "product" and sell it to your customers. Instead, most web sites use their core technology to build something that is free and give it away to people, who we call the users. When there are enough users, the websites turn the users into products and sell it to their customers.

Google is a typical example of such business model. Almost all of the Google "products" that we know today, including the search engine, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Android, Chrome, etc are NOT Google's products - because Google is giving them away freely. Free services are NOT products because there is no way to get money from it. To understand what is Google's products, we have to see where it's revenues come from - Adsense, that's right, is Google's real product.

But if Google Search et al. are not Google's products, does this mean that they are not important? No, because those are what allows Google to make great products - it's users. Google will continue to provide more free services to it's users as long as the added cost is believed to directly bring more revenue to Google.

Ok but everyone understands that, but what's the point of identifying what is product and what is not? Well, the notion of products and non-products is very important when it comes to competition. When a non-product enters an existing market to compete with other products, it becomes disruptive and can potentially make many competitors out of business. This is because non-product can be given away free but products can't.

This is why Gmail was disruptive to the email market because it was the first email service that do not rely on pro accounts as their product. Google identified that Gmail is not their product and therefore willing to provide so much storage space and features because they believed that doing so allows them to build better products (more users) and get more revenue from their customers (advertisers). When Gmail competed as a non-product, it became almost impossible for competitors to compete unless they changed their business model to something else other than pro accounts.

The same could be say for Microsoft IE vs Netscape. While Microsoft could be partly blamed for their anti-competitive practices, it is also clear that Netscape had a fatal business model of identifying the wrong thing as their product, making it failed to compete with IE when it became a non-product.

I had a hard time to understand how YouTube really works as a business, because it's so hard to understand how to pay for so much bandwidth just for users to watch free videos. But the answer is actually quite simple - YouTube is free because it is NOT Google's product.

If something is not your product, do NOT ever think of getting your money back from your users. Just give up your damn mind and give it away free generously, as long as you can make a product out of it.

You should have also realized that Android is not Google's product. But there is an important distinction on the business model between Android and iPhone - Google do realize that Android users are the product to sell to the App developers, who are the customers; but for Apple it's products are the iPhone and it's apps, and it's customers are the consumers who buy iPhones. The difference in business model makes it obvious how Android is different from iPhone - that Android developers are Google's top priority while Apple treats it's iPhone developers badly; Apple's iPhone is designed such that it can be sold expensively to it's customers, but Google does not care about the price of Android phones and do not try to make money out of the phone buyers. The two different business models currently creates different market segmentation for Android and iPhone, and as the market gradually merges, Apple would start to feel the pain of competing with a non-product.

So the most important lesson that we should learn is that, the reason that Google can become so disruptive in so many markets is because they have a disruptive business model that allows them to turn a traditional product into non-product to compete with other products.

Every entrepreneurs should now understand that it is extremely important to identify the right product, and never let that product has chance to directly compete with non-products, ever.

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