In most technical circles, Microsoft has been considered the evil empire for many years. Well, Microsoft may have a new challenger for that title as Google has decided they want to rule the world, and the blogosphere has started to notice. Google has been given a free pass for quite some time because they changed the way we use the internet. They were the cool company to work for too. It is interesting how things change over the years.
So, why am I saying that Google has “gone evil”? It is still a bit of a stretch, but they are doing some very Microsoft-ish things. First, they have decided that they will own whatever interesting technical concept people come up with. They may not be first or the best, but they will kill you with free features. Microsoft never went free, but they definitely went cheap when they needed to. Let’s assume that Google’s core businesses are search and contextual advertising. What else do they have?
GMail was one of the early products, but web hosted email is not a profit center. GMail was a move to get more people to know Google. Free products are great for publicity, and this was one big advertisement for Google. Once you have an email product and a web crawler, an RSS reader makes a lot of sense, and now we have Google Reader. Still, these products were in the vicinity of the core products that Google offered. However, after some of the early products, we saw Google try to branch out more. If you want to see the full breadth of products, take a look at the “More Google Products” page. Yep, they really sneak up on you. Now we have Google applications, with the option of having Google host your corporate email. Just ask Microsoft, office applications and email management are a cash cow.
We also have Google Maps which recently put a damper on the GPS navigation market by adding turn by turn directions. They have a news site, a finance site and a blog platform too. Granted, some of these applications were acquired businesses, like YouTube, but acquisition into new business lines is still expanding the business. There are Google groups, a Google IM client, a picture sharing/editing application and a social network. Louis Gray, an admitted Apple fanboy, even devoted a post to the idea of going completely Google.
For a long time now, Google was the free option, free as in cheap but also “freedom” from the corporate chains that looked like Microsoft. If you look at Google now, they are not very different from the Microsoft of 10 years ago, except for the widespread disgust. Is Google spreading itself too thin? I did not mention many of their products as they have several pages dedicated to what they have created. They have also started to get into legal battles because of this, not the typical patent trolling battles, but getting into copyright issues with newspapers and book publishers and authors. By continuously expanding their business, under the banner of “free”, they have expanded to the point where they are now the big behemoth of a company. Many people have started to paint the big target Google’s back as well. Does all of this sound familiar?
So, is Google evil based on all of this? Not particularly, as some of this is just good business. However, many people state that vendor lock-in is a bad thing, including getting all of your services from one vendor. Google is actively pursuing this strategy. People complain that a company knowing too much about you is definitely evil and a privacy concern as well. Google definitely knows a lot about you, especially if you use more than just Google search. People considered Microsoft evil for entering different application areas just because they had the manpower to do it and there might be money to be made. Google just did that with their free turn-by-turn directions in Google Maps. You know what they say, “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.”