Recently Hungry Beast from the ABC released a short video about Google which highlighted just how massive they are in the internet ecosphere. The video takes you through a raft of facts and figures about the company and draws a number of, what I would consider wrong conclusions, based on their actions as a company.
The majority of people wouldn’t be aware but Google have had a mantra from their early roots as a company of don’t be evil. That mantra was placed on a pedestal and at every meeting or business event – it was used to challenge the decision to see if that particular action contravened their mantra. If their proposed action was deemed evil, they would take a different tact or bin that decision or change all together. Throughout the video, Hungry Beast make a lot of statements and none of them are qualified with fact and come with a large number of assumptions and a lot of personal opinion. Following are a few points that I thought were worth addressing, there are more but I don’t have the time to retort every statement:
- Google wants to own you in the digital world
Looking through the video, all 2m46s of it – it is easy to come to that conclusion given the vast array of products that Google provide the public. From an outsiders view, it could be seen that it was a calculated activity from Google to release the slew of products they have and to some degree, I’m sure it was. What wasn’t mentioned within the video, is that a large number of the products Google offer were born out of the 20% time system that they provides their employees. The 20% time system allows a Google employee to spend 20% of their work time (if they want to), working on things that interest them which may not necessarily be work that Google have specifically tasked them to do. As it turns out, a number of their biggest products such as GMail were conceptualised and developed in this manner. While Google do have an impressive number of products and services they offer, they also believe in a user being able to easily put their data into and out of various Google products. To that end, Google have a data liberation team within the company who has the sole job of making sure you can get as much of your data in and out of Google if you so desire.
- Google wants your health care data
The United States of America are undergoing a health reform. Amongst that reform, the government opened up the option for people to access their own health records digitally. Google released an aptly named product, Google Health, that tapped into the health care network and allowed people to view and control their own health care records. This isn’t Google wanting to control your health data, you could choose to hook into your records using any number of service providers and the information is controlled and governed by the highest level of security and scrutiny.
- Google wants your DNA
In the last 10 years, Google have purchased over 30 different companies and invested into a number as well. Among those investments was a company named 23andMe, founded by the Anne Wojcicki, the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. 23andMe provides a DNA profiling service, where you can provide a sample of your DNA (cheek swab) and pay a relatively small amount of money for them to profile your DNA and let you know what medical conditions you may or may not be susceptible to. It isn’t Google that provides the service, it is 23andMe – so this was an unfair comment.
- Google wants to control the power grid
Since Google was founded, they have been relentlessly seeking ways to make their business more efficient – whether it be improving the speed of a simple Google search to optimising every element on a search results page. Along the way, power consumption was identified as a major cost to Google because of its massive computing infrastructure spread around the world. To reduce their costs and impact on the environment, Google have developed a slew of new technology, soft and hard – such as data centres that don’t require active cooling and high efficiency computer power supplies. The next step was optimising the supply of power to their infrastructure, as they think they can do it better than it is currently being done. This recent development has nothing to do with providing power to consumers and everything to do with Google controlling its own destiny.
- Google have invested into different markets
Hungry Beast are criticising Google for their choice in investments, such as software, green technology, bio technology and more. Unfortunately for Google, their business is all capital and they have very few assets outside of their staff and computing infrastructure. As such, when you have a market capitalisation of over USD$200 billion dollars and you post nearly USD$2 billion dollars in profit in the fourth quarter of 2009 alone – you really do need an outlet for that money.
While I am ever mindful of lumping all your eggs in one basket, however I also find it hard to resist the temptation of doing so with Google because they provide so many quality products. Not only is their range of products excellent, but their continued improvement on sharing data from one application to another in a seamless manner is making them easier and easier to use.
Do you care and to what extent, about using various products or services from the same company? For instance, do you care about using a lot of different products provided by Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft? Which one of those three or others that you can think of might be better or worst in your eyes?