September 21, 2005 8:00 AM PDT

Google builds an empire to rival Microsoft

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centers," said Kraus, chief executive of online start-up JotSpot.

"A lot of people have talked about Google's core ability to host thousands of applications and being your desktop in the sky," he said. "They certainly never fail to take advantage of it when launching new products."

Google also has invested in Current Communications Group, a provider of broadband-over-power-line technology. In addition, there are rumors that Google is eyeing satellite, technology that drives its 3D Google Earth application.

"They said, back when they invested in the Internet-over-power-lines company, that part of their corporate mission is 'promoting universal access to the Internet for users,'" said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch. "They seem to think they need to make sure everybody can get online, and running your own network certainly makes that a lot easier."

This week, Google quietly launched Google Secure Access, a beta version of a downloadable client application that allows users to establish a secure, encrypted network connection while using a Wi-Fi wireless network. The program can be downloaded at certain Google Wi-Fi locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Google said, without stating exactly where those locations are.

The company also has been working with San Francisco company Feeva on Wi-Fi access since earlier this year, Feeva spokesman Keith Kamisugi confirmed Tuesday. He declined to elaborate, except to say that Feeva and Google offer a free Wi-Fi hot spot at the trendy Union Square shopping area in downtown San Francisco. People who connect to the network see a Google Search splash page, Kamisugi said.

"(Google seems) to think they need to make sure everybody can get online, and running your own network certainly makes that a lot easier."
--Danny Sullivan, editor, Search Engine Watch

Google spokesman Nate Tyler told Reuters that it was running a limited test of a free wireless Internet service, called Google Wi-Fi, with hot spots in a pizza parlor and a gym located near the company's headquarters.

Google also recently purchased Android, a wireless software start-up, and was looking to hire a global infrastructure strategic negotiator to ink dark fiber contracts as part of a "global backbone network."

Offering Internet access gets more potential Google users online and gives the company another way to target consumers with ads, particularly location-based advertisements for wireless users.

Google, which tends to keep long-term plans under wraps, did not return an e-mail seeking comment for this story. (Google representatives have instituted a policy of not talking with CNET News.com reporters until July 2006 in response to privacy issues raised by a previous story.)

Some people speculate the company will use the dark fiber to build a massive nationwide network that would rival those of some of the largest Internet backbone providers such as MCI and AT&T. As that theory goes, Google would use this network to shuttle traffic across the country between its data centers. Then it would use a wireless network to distribute the content locally to end users.

Voice, video
Voice over Internet communications is also a likely target, analysts said.

"If the traffic is flowing across the Internet, you have no idea how many routers the traffic has gone through, which can impact the quality of the call," said Michael Howard, an analyst at Infonetics Research. "But if the traffic travels on your own network, you can control the quality. That could be reason enough to build a network."

Video is another possibility. Google hosts people's downloaded video for free and indexes and searches it.

"It's pretty evident that they will have some play in video distribution. How that's going to come out is still a mystery," said Vamsi Sistla, director of broadband and digital home/media at ABI Research.

Like many other large companies with high bandwidth needs, Google could be building its own network simply to be saving money.

"I would imagine that Google must be paying someone a lot of money to keep its data centers running and in sync," Howard said. "So it makes perfect sense for them to build a network themselves to connect their data centers."

Gartner analyst Allen Weiner, who predicts Google will eventually develop a Google phone, said becoming an application delivery platform would be "part of (Google's) intellectual property DNA."

"If they built out a hosting platform for people to upload all kinds of content that could be searched by Google and monetized by Google, like video and podcasts...it takes money to do, and with the search capabilities as their strong suit it could be something they could do," Weiner said. "Google could say, 'We'll host it for you; you point to us.' That could be huge."

CNET News.com's Marguerite Reardon and Martin LaMonica contributed to this report.

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34 comments

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Google Linux
Surely, a Google Distribution of an open OS is going to be their
major move.

Ubuntu seem primed to be the first home user friendly distro. I
could see Google making a move on them in the near future,
and bundling Google Earth, Picasa, Google Talk, Google Desktop
Search, GMail and a Web Application Office Suite into it.

They could also make the distro available to x86, x64 and
PowerPC processors, meaning not only could you run it on AMD
and Intel machines, as well as Mac's, but in theory you could run
it on the Playstation 3, Nintendo Revolution and of course, XBox
360.
Posted by Peej2K (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not forgetting
That ever increasing space that you use on GMail could also be
used to save all of your documents for the AJAX Google Office
suite, and allow you to synchronise your personal information and
photographs onto Google's service, ala .Mac
Posted by Peej2K (40 comments )
Link Flag
Thin Client
It's likely they'll use Linux as a thin client, rather than a full-blown desktop OS. It's also likely that instead of attacking desktop PCs head on, they just outflank that market with a Google-branded smartphone running Linux.

But this would be assuming that controlling the client-side is in their plans at all. Maybe they think that the server-side is all they need ... if that's the case, then they better be planning on how to react when Microsoft starts leveraging their client-side dominance in their new MSN push.
Posted by alucinor (71 comments )
Link Flag
Thin Client
It's likely they'll use Linux as a thin client, rather than a full-blown desktop OS. It's also likely that instead of attacking desktop PCs head on, they just outflank that market with a Google-branded smartphone running Linux.

But this would be assuming that controlling the client-side is in their plans at all. Maybe they think that the server-side is all they need ... if that's the case, then they better be planning on how to react when Microsoft starts leveraging their client-side dominance in their new MSN push.
Posted by alucinor (71 comments )
Link Flag
Thin Client
It's likely they'll use Linux as a thin client, rather than a full-blown desktop OS. It's also likely that instead of attacking desktop PCs head on, they just outflank that market with a Google-branded smartphone running Linux.

But this would be assuming that controlling the client-side is in their plans at all. Maybe they think that the server-side is all they need ... if that's the case, then they better be planning on how to react when Microsoft starts leveraging their client-side dominance in their new MSN push.
Posted by alucinor (71 comments )
Link Flag
Never heard of Ubuntu
It sure as heck isn't a 'home-user-friendly' name. How about they start with a simple non-geek name that make sense and people can pronounce and spell?
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Link Flag
Skynet!
Obviously this is google's plan
Posted by jm1234567890 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Competition is good in this case
I think more competition is good in this case. Linux forced Microsoft to rethink it's startegy and Microsoft users had some benefit from it. Likewise, I think competition from Google can make Microsoft more sensitive to user needs.

Khalid
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ozevision.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.ozevision.com</a>
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.oneplanet.net.au" target="_newWindow">http://www.oneplanet.net.au</a>
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Competition is great
Competition is what ultimately makes a capitalist society superior to full blown socialism. Capitalism without competition becomes fascism and then we have a system as oppressive if not more than a socialist society. I hope there are more competitors to MS and Google in the years ahead including open source.
Posted by mstlyevil (39 comments )
Link Flag
Increased competition
I totally agree with the increased competition thread. I want to see more players competing to improve consumer experience. Whether it's Google, Yahoo, or AOL, I want to see more neato products and services.

As for the Google Linux thread, I am not sure that's a good idea for the same reasons others have mentioned. I have no doubt that the Google geniuses can produce a consumer-friendly Linux distro. My concern would be using those dollars in other more interesting projects.

Charles Jo
www.charlesjo.com
Posted by CharlesJo.com (34 comments )
Link Flag
Where did the Linux discussion come from..
I just looked at the article again and there is no mention of Linux doing a desktop Linux.

Imagine a world where the Desktop OS isn't important. If all your office apps where served over the web. This was kind of the vision of JAVA and it looks like Google are doing their own version of it.

Firstly the market for office applications would decline. Then thin clients of any type could be used.

Instant On.
All info available anywhere.
No Notebook required. Just hot desk to a free PC and get at all your information and documents.

This could be where Google is going, or they may decide to hold the high ground on search and Internet Services and make their money from advertising and licencing their technology.

I think moving business from Office (Word/Excel) is tougher than moving then from Windows.

All the main Operating System can look and interact like Windows if you want them to, but the interface/menu struture for the applications is always a bit unique.

Compete on Office and the rest will follow.
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It came
From my summerising of the article, then making my own personal
statement.

I think Google will go for the Desktop at some point, or at least put
backing into someone who wants to desperately go for the
desktop.
Posted by Peej2K (40 comments )
Link Flag
Linux is used by Google
Google already uses only Linux on it's servers, so if it moved to a desktop application it would more than likely involve some type of linux code.
Posted by mstlyevil (39 comments )
Link Flag
The free public network computer is already here
Google's ambitions will finally reveal a a
service simular to the free for life personal
online desktop like the one provided by
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.cosmopod.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.cosmopod.com</a>
Posted by iqula (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google's Empire will be great for the cross-platform Computing World!
Making seamless cross-platform compatibility a paradise in the not
so distant future. The Internet and the World Wide Wed was born
to be cross-platform and Google is our only hope to return it to its
roots.
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Reply Link Flag
^ ignore this one ^
*NM*
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Link Flag
Google's Empire will be great for the cross-platform Computing World!
Making seamless cross-platform compatibility a paradise in the not
so distant future. The Internet and the World Wide Web was born
to be cross-platform and Google is our only hope to return it to its
roots.
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Skynet? Nah...
We welcome our new search engine overlord masters!
Posted by Betty Roper (121 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't trust them
First is why would someone want to do this? It is not a new concept. back in the day it was a bunch of monitors and keyboards plugged into a mainframe. This is somewhat similar. What happens when connections drop? There is a lot to be said for having your own system that isn't dependant on anything, other then being plugged into an electrical outlet.

Next, there is the innate untrustworthiness of Google. They basically believe they are entitled to cache any data they want at anytime. Look at their policies, it is a sleazy out-out system, not an ethical opt-in one. GMail is a terrible system, users give them free access and they happily index it and their privacy policy is too vague. They have every single search you have done, matched with your IP, they save that crap forever. These sorts of actions put them close to Microsoft on the high-end of the sleaze meter.

Google has similar god-like attitudes, but has a can't-do-any-wrong rep from the general public. Just like microsoft used to have. All this shows is the ignorance of most computer users. They just buy into whatever the hype is today, regardless of past actions of the company.

Trusting your data to Google is as stupid as trusting it to MS.
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The point is...
The future can offer a lot of web-based services and applications which allow thin clients to be more popular compared to fully loaded devices like laptops where most of the applications are locally installed. Thus, the early release of web services, web APIs and web applications... ?

Of course, the success of these online products depend on the infrastructure and architecture of the Internet to offer 99.99999% if not 100% reliabile and dependable network connectivity. Thus, the dark fibers... ?

Then you gather a customer base to know and recognize your brand. So that when the time comes, you have a brand and cult following just like with Microsoft, Apple and Linux...

The Google empire is in the making...
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Calm down Mr. Arnold
Google is not looking to take over the desktop. A greater reality is they intend to become an ISP providing WiFi access from across thier network. They are not the only player here either, AT&#38;T and Verison are doing the same thing using 802.11 technology. Cingular is trying to do it starting with a UMTS network.

I am sure Google will do very well with this venture, but if they go after the desktop I'll bet on Microsoft's $38B in cash from earnings against Google's $7B from stock sales.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Calm down Mr. Arnold
Google is not looking to take over the desktop. A greater reality is they intend to become an ISP providing WiFi access from across thier network. They are not the only player here either, AT&#38;T and Verison are doing the same thing using 802.11 technology. Cingular is trying to do it starting with a UMTS network.

I am sure Google will do very well with this venture, but if they go after the desktop I'll bet on Microsoft's $38B in cash from earnings against Google's $7B from stock sales.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What is this guy smoking?
"Unlike Google, Microsoft does not focus on performance as an end in itself. As a result,
Microsoft gets performance the way most computer users do. Microsoft buys or
upgrades machines. Microsoft does not fiddle with its operating systems and their
subfunctions to get that extra time slice or two out of the hardware." - This is a crazy statement to make about any company, let alone Microsoft.
Posted by (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a free web based full blown office
a free, open source web based full blown office package with strong collaboration capabilities is what is beeing developed at www.nyandu.com
WITH NO SOFTWARE INSTALATION other than the browser
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
gofo de las nieves
boludo si sos vos contestame este mail urgente
Posted by gofo de las nieves (1 comment )
Link Flag
 

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