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Google Considered Too Big To Fail

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the advertising-bubble dept.

Google 366

theodp writes "Doc Searls is worried about the way Google makes money. 'Nearly all of it comes from advertising,' he frets. 'That's what pays for all the infrastructure Google is giving to the rest of us. As our dependency on Google verges on the absolute, this should be a concern.' Have we reched Peak Advertising? Blogger Dave Winer says amen, asking if Google is already 'too big to fail.'"

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What a doorknob (5, Insightful)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114070)

Nothing is "too big to fail".

At the current rate, people will shy away from Google as it's becoming an omnipresence on the internet which is raising concern.

There are numerous examples of things that could not be that happened, like the Titanic, Yahoo and Enron.

Re:What a doorknob (4, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114090)

Really, if google were to fail, we'd have lots of alternatives. Saying it's too big to fail just shows that someone is writing horrifically shitty blogposts.

Re:What a doorknob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114304)

In soviet Russia, horrifically shitty blogposts are too shitty to fail.

Re:What a doorknob (1, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114440)

It gave him a lot of hits. Sounds like a successful article to me. (Which is why I don't trust 'journalism' much, whether it's MSM or blogs.)

Re:What a doorknob (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114610)

Yep, what the poet wrote. It's just another douche post from the douchespehere.

Re:What a doorknob (1)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114646)

Either that, or someone who wants yet more bailout guarantees in the future, when some business inevitably fails.

Re:What a doorknob (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114154)

Too big to fail = government bailout safety net

Our banking system and the auto industry have proven that to be the case.

Re:What a doorknob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114302)

Too big to fail = government bailout safety net

Just "borrow" it from unborn people by inspecting a statistical slope of populationgrowth with calculated growth in economical activity and tax-income, "ask investors to loan it" by giving interest on it in the future through obligations or "investment opportunities.

If all else fails, inflate the worth to decrease your "loans" or default on your investors. And thus you have given, effectively, by taking of the rich and giving it to the poor and supported the bailout net.

Re:What a doorknob (2, Informative)

Stook (1270928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114510)

Not quite. The auto industry was bailed out because of the massive amounts of people it employed that would have lost their jobs. The banks were bailed out because small business and the average Joe didn't have alternatives to go to for credit. With Google, businesses could easily redirect their advertising revenue somewhere else. People could search with someone else. Email is everywhere. Google is massively convenient, but it's not a cornerstone of our economy.

Re:What a doorknob (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114598)

>>>the massive amounts of people it employed that would have lost their jobs.

And been hired by Ford, which is expanding. There was no need to bail-out GM, which should have been allowed to fail. (One less car company would be good, plus their cars weren't worth buying anyway. Let GM go to the same grave as Tribant.)

Re:What a doorknob (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114632)

Trabant.

Re:What a doorknob (2, Insightful)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114678)

The farming by hand industry was huge back in the day. It employed massive amounts of people. We should bail that out and bring people to work. Or, better yet, we should have the unemployed build holes in the desert -- image the jumpstart to our economy!

Re:What a doorknob (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114536)

Ever heard of the Depression of 1920? No? Well the stock market crashed to HALF its value, and the GDP dropped by 29% (that's worse than either now or the 1930s). The government did not bail-out anybody. The government took a hands-off policy and let businesses fail.

By fall 1921 the depression was over.

THAT'S what the government should have done this time - let businesses fail; clear out the dead weight, and then reboot. The recession would already be over as of right now (one year later). We would be rebuilding on top of AIG's and GM's bones. - Instead they've loaned money to these rotting carcasses (AIG, GM, et cetera) and allowed them to continue lumbering along, and now the recession will last year-after-year-after-year because we have to carry all this dead weight.

Re:What a doorknob (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114644)

The depression was over in 1921? You mean 1941, right?

Re:What a doorknob (3, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114258)

As we know "Too big to fail" does not mean that they can't fail, but that they are so large that failure would mean intervention from the governement on a large scale as it would otherwise take down the country. Which means that if they fail, something will be done to guarantee that somebody must take over the damage.
Look at the banks that failed and were called "too big to fail."

Re:What a doorknob (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114280)

What about your wife?

Re:What a doorknob (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114342)

Exactly. If something fails, everything else will fill the space in the blink of an eye. And the new competition will make the new offerings even better! (Especially in case of a [quasi-]monopoly.)

“Too big to fail.” is just another way of saying “Too powerful to let us let it fail.”

Re:What a doorknob (1)

Thoreauly Nuts (1701246) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114388)

At the current rate, people will shy away from Google as it's becoming an omnipresence on the internet which is raising concern.

Oh, if only that were true. Only nut-jobs like me "shy away" from Google. Everyone else will use it until they can't, completely missing the point that they shouldn't be supporting it in the first place once it achieves a given mass.

The biggest threat to liberty and equality in the world is the unchecked accumulation of wealth, and the power inherent in it, in individuals and the organizations (corporations, governments, etc.) said individuals collude together to form. History has been quite clear on this. There have been no exceptions.

As such, everyone who cares at all for posterity and justice should oppose such accumulation to the best they can.

Personally, I try not to support any company that controls over 10% of its market. I haven't completely succeeded yet, but I'm getting damn close...

Re:What a doorknob (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114594)

You are my new hero.

If only you were a meme, you'd touch briefly over more then 10% of the internet population and dissolve in a puff of smoke, carried in the memories of those and reminding them they should not support anything about 10% of complete market mass.

Re:What a doorknob (1)

Conchobair (1648793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114500)

If anything was ever too big to fail, it was Andre the Giant. RIP my giant friend.

Re:What a doorknob (1)

LowerTheBar (1741458) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114654)

I am so tired of this "too big to fail" argument. Capitalism works folks...as long as the socio-economic goons in politics stay out of the way. There is no company to big to fail. If some Car manufacturer or large banks or even Google where allowed to fail, it may sting for a while, but there would be many other entities out there ready and willing to pick up the pieces and march forward (and not cost the taxpayer any money). Allowing such a failure might also wake some large corporate entities up and make them rethink their practices.

Logical fallacy (-1, Redundant)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114076)

I and most people don't "rely" on Google at all. I have googlemail, but it's barely used and could be easily transferred to somewhere else like yahoomail, or hotmail, or my ISPs' mail service (verizon.net and isp.netscape.com).

I don't rely on their search engines either. Again there are plenty of replacements.

So let Google fail. Most users don't care.

Re:Logical fallacy (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114220)

All my apps are already portable - that's what my laptop is for.

I went through with my new years resolution to remove google from all my browsers. I use kmail - if I wanted a web-based mail (I don't), I can self-host either on my hosting server or on my home server. I have never used google docs, and never will.

Google won't go out of business ... but by the same token, while they are desperately trying to get into new markets, they're still a one-trick pony when it comes to generating profits.

Re:Logical fallacy (2, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114534)

I have never used google docs, and never will.

Hey, google docs is GREAT for tracking treasure and experience points for role playing games.... but yeah, I wouldn't trust it for anything else.

Re:Logical fallacy (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114226)


Agreed. I initially used hotmail for years, and when gmail came along, I made the switch. It's not like you're married to your email account.

Re:Logical fallacy (-1, Redundant)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114374)

MY POST WAS THE FIRST POST (look at the timestamp). How can it be modded "redundant"? I was not copying anyone, but sharing my own thoughts.

Re:Logical fallacy (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114482)

Unfortunately, there isn't a mod for "Tiresome Bleeding Obvious Opinion that Every 2nd Poster Will Feel Compelled to Share", so we have to go with Redundant

Re:Logical fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114690)

Some dumbass mods are on today. I've been seeing this on a few threads...

Re:Logical fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114476)

You are not very bright. Just because *you* don't care doesn't mean that *most* don't care.

In fact, it's just the opposite. Most people do care because most people use at least one or more Google services on a daily basis. You're the odd man out here.

OMG! Bailout. (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114078)

Here it comes. Another company that when it screws up we will have to rescue because they are "too big to fail." Just what we need. Maybe there should be a limit on market cap so that no company is ever allowed to get to be too big to fail.

Re:OMG! Bailout. (3, Insightful)

fatboy (6851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114218)

How about we just let them fail and have other more agile companies take their place? Should have happened with the banks and automakers. Those were political payoffs though. (Think Saturn. They weren't unionized, but profitable.)

Re:OMG! Bailout. (2, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114550)

How about we just let them fail and have other more agile companies take their place? Should have happened with the banks and automakers. Those were political payoffs though. (Think Saturn. They weren't unionized, but profitable.)

Automotive, maybe. Banks are a trickier proposition, because so many other businesses rely on them for lines of credit, and their model was so incestuous that one or two big failures would bring down a lot of others, and while the banks might have deserved that, the customers arguably didn't. Not shoring up banks is a great way to sit back and watch your economy tank because nobody has the liquidity to move goods and services around.

Re:OMG! Bailout. (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114618)

News to me that they were profitable. They managed to barely eek out a profit some quarters while relying on some of the other GM network services to lighten the load. The brand name recognition was horrible, and demographics showed that their buyer pool was being hit extraordinarily hard (single, working mothers were their largest demographic) in the recession, and that they were going to dip back into being very not profitable.

I agree with you with the whole let them fail deal. If we can't let them fail, then we should have bailed them out, parted them up and sold them to other banks.

Re:OMG! Bailout. (5, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114638)

(Think Saturn. They weren't unionized, but profitable.)

Uhh, Saturn was unionized (UAW) and was only profitable for 1 year out of its entire existence (1993).

Not to say that the union was the problem, but not having a union does not give you the able to ignore trends, consumer demands, and quality controls and still have a successful company.

-Rick

Re:OMG! Bailout. (2, Funny)

Kratisto (1080113) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114344)

Hold on. Let me google if Google is too big to fail...

Re:OMG! Bailout. (1)

delinear (991444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114492)

Willem Buiter [wikipedia.org] suggested some ideas [ft.com] to deal with the problem of "too big to fail". The tax ideas is quite interesting, but as always the problem is enforcing it without just driving the company oversees. There's also the concept of "too big to save", where the company exceeds too big to fail by becoming so expensive to bail out that it can't be saved (see what happened to the defaulting Icelandic banks, for instance), I wonder how long it would take Google to reach this point, and who would bail it out - the US or every country that has an interest in it not failing?

I'm not sure "too big to fail" is such an issue in Google's case anyway. At the moment they have money to burn and they seem to be acting like a TBTF company on a mad spending spree, but if revenues fall it's easy enough to reign that in, it's similarly easy to reign in spending on data centres. it's not like advertising will suddenly drop off a cliff one day. If it goes away (and I find this unlikely, even today I was reading a report that traditional offline advertising boosts online conversions by up to 40%, so the idea that old forms of advertising are losing their relevance doesn't seem right), it's likely to be a gradual decline and Google and everyone else will have time to prepare/scale down/find a new model.

I wonder if this is partially why Google is trying to get into the phone market and infrastructure, to mitigate "peak advertising".

He might have a point... (4, Funny)

hey (83763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114084)

... but he probably doesn't.

Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114092)

That is so not cuil.

we will pay (1)

badpool (1721056) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114098)

Then they will charge for their services. We will end up paying for google the same way we pay for TV channels (for those of us who still do...)

or not... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114288)

We will end up paying for google the same way we pay for TV channels (for those of us who still do...)

Or not.

There are plenty of free alternatives for people to migrate to. If there were no other alternatives, then you might have a point, but time and again, when someone starts charging for services available for free elsewhere, people just go elsewhere.

Re:or not... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114626)

If the online advertising becomes so weak that Google starts charging, those free alternatives will be either charging or toast.

If Google woke up one day and decided "Mwahaha, we'll start charging for Gmail, pitiful consumers would never dare switch to hotmail!", they would almost certainly experience profound disappointment and a substantial exodus.

If, however, Google is charging because Adsense can't keep the servers and lights on anymore, there aren't going to be a whole lot of other web companies who are somehow doing better at providing services exclusively on ad money.

Not really (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114104)

I mean, the world functioned without Google, and its competitors are as strong as ever before, (I'm looking at you, Bing and Yahoo).

But if you're asking if they'd be getting a bailout from the government, like all those other companies that were "too big to fail" (though really, they shouldn't be either) - than yeah they'd fall in that category.

I think we need to abolish the idea of "too big to fail". If a company can't handle it, they can't handle it, they deserve to be shut down, and everyone invested in it can lose all the money they invested in that risk, and everyone stuck owing debts to it can finally be debt free.

Re:Not really (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114364)

I think we need to abolish the idea of "too big to fail". If a company can't handle it, they can't handle it, they deserve to be shut down, and everyone invested in it can lose all the money they invested in that risk, and everyone stuck owing debts to it can finally be debt free.

That's class warfare! It's the duty of the working, and middle, classes to absorb the risk and losses, cushioning the rich against potential bankruptcy. After all it's the corporations and banks that make the world go around! (and soon they'll demand a nickel from everyone for every rotation).

On a totally unrelated note I am going to live on fat and sugar from now on so I can get Too Fat To Die!

Re:Not really (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114508)

Speaking of classes, isn't it funny how we so desperately try to avoid the Caste System that foreign nations use only to have created one ourselves under a different name?

Re:Not really (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114584)

(I'm looking at you, Bing and Yahoo).

I think you mean Bing-Yahoo. Yahoo dumped their search engine and now contracts with Microsoft to serve up Bing results with Yahoo ads.

Is $COMPANY "$BUZZWORD"? (4, Funny)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114122)

Is $COMPANY "$BUZZWORD"?

$PUNDIT says $COMPANY has utilized its $PRODUCT too much and $GOVERNMENT needs to do something about it. $BUZZWORD happened to $OTHER_COMPANY and $COMPANY is on the same path.

$FLOATNG ADVERT

$CEO says $COMPANY is responsbile. $OTHER_PUNDIT disagrees.

Re:Is $COMPANY "$BUZZWORD"? (2, Insightful)

daid303 (843777) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114322)

$FLOATNG GOOGLE ADVERT

There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Is $COMPANY "$BUZZWORD"? (1)

zx-15 (926808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114524)

$FLOATING_GOOGLE_ADVERT

Fixed that for ya
-----

Does it make me syntax nazi?

Re:Is $COMPANY "$BUZZWORD"? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114396)

LOL. Care to modify my Greasemonkey script [userscripts.org] to match any values of your variables?

I’d love to read Slashdot that way.

Re:Is $COMPANY "$BUZZWORD"? (5, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114446)

Is NevarMore "Funny"?

Monkeedude says NevarMore has utilized its PHP too much and Slashdot needs to do something about it. PHP happened to CowboyNeal and NevarMore is on the same path.

Have you used the Google Local Business Locator yet? You'll be able to find out where you need to go in no time! Soon you won't be able to find your way home without our us!

Moderators say Nevarmore is responsible. No one disagrees.

-

This is more fun than mad libs!

Re:Is $COMPANY "$BUZZWORD"? (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114462)

With humor like that, you could work for The Onion!

Seriously though, that was brilliant.

Re:Is $COMPANY "$BUZZWORD"? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114570)

Please provide your real name and address, so our copyright infringement lawyer can contact you. Your posting constitutes unauthorized reproduction of our master article template.

Have we reched Peak Advertising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114132)

What does "reched" mean?

Re:Have we reched Peak Advertising? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114318)

What does "reched" mean?

Oh, it's just a spelling error. The author forgot the "t" before the "c".

Re:Have we reched Peak Advertising? (1)

3dr (169908) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114328)

I think it's a typo. It was supposed to be "wretched Peak Advertising".

So, clearly, the answer to "Have we wretched Peak Advertising?" is yes.

Popularity is not dependency. (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114136)

Just because lots of people use Google doesn't mean they can't and won't switch to something.

I'll miss Google if it goes, but really I'm not dependent on it - Yahoo search and Bing search are actually OK.

If your business or life is dependent on Google, then either you accept that, or you take measures to not be so dependent.

Re:Popularity is not dependency. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114312)

Oooh! "Populatiry is not dependency" Sounds good.

Yeah, you're full of incite you are. Just because we watch television, sit on chairs, wipe our bums with toilet paper doesn't mean we're dependent on them. What are these fools talking about. Google? I only spend about an hour a day using it. I could go to the library or ask my mate Dave the same questions if it went belly up.

We're not dependent on Google. We don't need no stinking Google.

Re:Popularity is not dependency. (2, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114714)

I think you're the one that's full of incite.

You might need that toilet paper sooner than you think.

The CIA and NSA need Google (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114172)

They won't let it fail until capitalism itself is brought down by workers revolution.

Horseshit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114174)

That's what pays for all the infrastructure Google is giving to the rest of us.

Let's get this out of the way: Google is not a bank.

So, what would happen?

If Google goes away, there would be other search engines that would fill in instantly.

Same for advertising.

Google goes away, so what?

Think of advertising as oil and Google as one big emirate. What happens when the oil runs out?

That's an incredibly stupid thing to say - equating oil with adverting!?

*condescending snicker*

Except that Google is so much cheaper... (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114206)

If we've reached "peak advertising" its not Google which will suffer but TV and print...

Part of the beauty of what Google has done is made advertising cheap, quantifiable, and universal. Anyone can do it, anyone can measure it, and its cheap.

If a company wants to spend advertisement money efficiently, they spend it through Google. If they don't, they throw it away on the Superbowl, where the audience is 100M, and $3M an add, so that costs $.03 for each person who sees the add, regardless of whether they are interested, paying attention, or relevant.

Compare that with advertising through Google, where if you say, advertise on slashdot, not only is it cheaper per person, but its only geeks who may be interested in the ads presented.

Re:Except that Google is so much cheaper... (1)

XPisthenewNT (629743) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114410)

Three cents for a click is a steal!

Right now I have 103 clicks since my last Google adsense payment, which will pay me $74.44. That's an average of $0.73 per click. Some clicks pay me over a dollar. Google must be taking a cut for this, advertisers are paying even more.

I started a Google adwords campaign for a company a few years ago, and thought I'd have no problem finding some keywords where I could get a trickle of customers at $0.10. No dice. I had to move to a dollar or two a click before I could even spend my advertising budget.

Re:Except that Google is so much cheaper... (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114582)

It's not 3 cents a click, it's 3 cents an impression. Those 103 clicks probably took you thousands of impressions to get.

Google isn't going anywhere. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114414)

To me, as an advertiser, Google is the best solution because they let me make highly targeted advertisements. I can literally say I only want to show up on Monday afternoons in Bobstown,NY for middleage men searching for "Frobs Widget 203B" and that is where my ad money will go. I can use these tight settings to compare which demographic and keywords get the most clicks or even the most revenue. About 70% of my business comes from natural listings on Google and another 15% from AdWords. No other search engine gets close to providing as much traffic and when you compare their speed of indexing and their quality of search results it's obvious as to why. So long as Google continues to drive high quality traffic to businesses they aren't going anywhere.

Google's biggest problem is that they change to much and often in pointless ways. Froogle for instance has had about a half dozen names and keeps changing the way a merchant gets to their dashboard. Their second biggest problem is poor support even for paying customers. I swear their support people must be the stupidest people they could find in India because they don't understand what you're telling them and don't even make an effort to be useful. I've talked to walls that gave more useful responses.

And of course, Google hasn't even considered this (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114208)

That's why there's no such thing as Google for Domains. No such thing as the Google Search Appliance. Google Checkout? Figment of the imagination.

And as for advertising not being a sustainable form of revenue - you'd better tell that to all the world's television and radio stations. They think that's formed their core business for decades.

Let Me Give Your the Short, and Long Answer (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114210)

Short Answer: No, nothing is to big to fail.

Long Answer: There are OVER 1,000 search engines publicly available, one of them has your answer.

Our "dependency" on Google (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114234)

Really? How dependent are you on Google?

For searching, you can always use Yahoo or Bing, or a few others. For replacing GMail, you can always use POP access to download your mail and keep it locally, run your own mailserver (after informing people of your new address), use your ISP's mail system, or another free email service. If you're using Google Maps for something, you could make do with Mapquest. If you're an advertiser on Google, there are lots of sites that would be happy to have you advertise on their sites instead. If you're doing SEO, you can follow Yahoo or Bing's rules at least as easily as Google's. If you had no Android phones, you'd still have iPhones. The list goes on for the vast majority of their offerings.

In all cases, Google has its dominant position not via lock-in, but by delivering services that are on par with or better than its competitors. Either that or sheer habit. But that's significantly different from, say, a Windows user's dependency on Microsoft.

Re:Our "dependency" on Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114404)

Can you please show some decency and not bring the truth and reality into this discussion?

If you're not careful, you'll reveal Doc Searls' and Dave Winer's articles for the shams that they are.

Re:Our "dependency" on Google (2, Interesting)

jschen (1249578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114558)

Agreed. Furthermore, for e-mail, you can make switching providers completely transparent to the people with whom you communicate. I've been using my alma mater's forwarding service for the last decade. During that time, I have switched from Hotmail to my (former) ISP's e-mail service to GMail. The last move occurred only because I was switching ISPs. With all three services, I used IMAP or POP and a local mail program, using web access only when away from my own computers, so nothing really changed on my end. And nothing changes for people I'm in communication with. They keep sending e-mails to my alma mater's forwarding service, and I keep using that address as my outgoing address.

So failure of Google would be minimally disruptive to me. Failure of my alma mater would be far more disastrous. Given its track record, though, I'm willing to bet on my alma mater outliving me.

You don't deserve being called a geek ... (1)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114652)

For replacing GMail, you can always use POP access to download your mail and keep it locally

And loosing all your precious information, like in which folder it is, is it tagged as read, important, etc. ? No way.

The only way to properly copy/move your GMail box is to use IMAPSync [linux-france.org] (or something alike, but IMAPSync is the best).

For the truly paranoids, you can even regularly backup all your mail from GMail to another IMAP server (say, your own Cyrus imapd), so you can't be taken by surprise when Google pulls the plug.

Re:Our "dependency" on Google (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114720)

I am absolutely dependent on Google.

Google is on top for a reason. When I heard Bing's shopping/product search was supposed to be bitchin', I went and tried it with something I was interested in at the time... think it was a graphics card. Anyway, I searched for two models, one Bing returned NO results where Google returned half a dozen, for another model Bing returned a dozen and Google returned about a hundred. Consequently, if there were no Google, I would suffer a ten-fold or more reduction in my ability to do things. (I haven't tried this specific example on other search engines lately but I don't expect much better.)

Mapquest sucks. It was the first to market, which underscores how much better Google maps is, that so many people who were using Mapquest jumped ship. Android phones are the first line of phones I've actually 'wanted' as opposed to simply perceiving as 'oh well, I guess I need a cell phone, bleh'. For chrissake, they can take pictures of barcodes, search, and deliver cost comparisons and vendor locations on the fly where-ever there is connectivity. Nobody else does that. (Yeah you could key in the UPC to a mobile browser manually, but it takes longer.)

Your ultimate conclusion is correct, Google doesn't lock people in, so moving to alternatives in a worst case scenario isn't a nightmare possibility. However my life without Google would be significantly more bothersome. Though I agree that doesn't make it necessarily 'too big to fail' either.

Doctors aren't always right. (3, Insightful)

jchawk (127686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114268)

Google has positioned itself to survive on the Internet once we move past point and click ads, pop-ups and direct marketed emails.

At the end of the day people need marketed to because they don't know where to go for the things they want/need. Google is positioning itself to do this directly with its overly large suite of products.

When businesses stop spending traditional advertising dollars they won't be able to bank them they'll just be forced to redirect them into Google.

Handsets, Buzz, GMAIL, Search engine data it all rolls up into a marketing profile so Google can predict what you're looking for. If Google can help get you to the right place and you buy something they will ultimately get a piece of the final sale.

Driving to work and need a coffee? Google has the data to get you to a Starbucks or a local Mom and Pop. Do you really think this will stay free for the businesses?

As a small business owner I am happy to turn them over a commission on sales I would have otherwise not received without their help.

I truly believe Google will become just another cost of doing business similar to how Visa/Mastercard charges are.

Re:Doctors aren't always right. (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114606)

At the end of the day people need marketed to because they don't know where to go for the things they want/need.

Can't they just Google it?

F*ck you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114272)

1) Google is wildly profitable

2) If it fails it'll cause very minor inconvenience to lots of sites as they switch to Bing

3) F*ck you for wasting our time with that alarmist crap

They can always start charging. (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114276)

If you are that dependent on Google's "free" services, maybe you and they should start paying for them. Google does have a sales force where its "free" offerings are made available to enterprises with some additional bells and whistles and guarantees.

Re:They can always start charging. (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114352)

I was thinking about your comment and to be honest, if google would fee me lets say about 5 euro a month to use google.com I would pay. So I think you have a valid point here.

Re:They can always start charging. (1, Informative)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114692)

if google would fee me lets say about 5 euro a month to use google.com I would pay

Shoot for $5 a month. 5 Euro is like, real money!

Don't worry, BING will save the world if G fails! (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114286)

My gawd! Did I actually say that? I....must....shower....NOW...

Did you say "shower"? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114464)

Don't do it, man, we'll have to revoke your GNU/Linux license.

Recursive Acronym BING. (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114604)

BING is a recursive acronym. Bing is not google.

inf0rmative 7acotaco (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114316)

current internet not inevitable or irreversible (1)

wronski (821189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114376)

*If* google fails, it won't be around one day and gone the next. In any case, there are other search engines that do a nearly as good a job as google, so we would still be able to do search. Migrating from Gmail would be slightly more complicated, but would still be doable, especially considering that all other free email providers would love to, and actively encourage and help anyone wanting to migrate. Generally, if google stumbles, there are plenty of others ready and willing to pick up the slack. -- Far more worrying would to have a systemic failure of the entire 'free stuff & ads 'business model. If providing free search and/or email (and social networking) is no longer profitable, we are truly screwed. It is not that we would have to pay much for search and email (marginal costs are very small); but the net would probably balkanize (if search isn't free, why would content? And in this case, why link to your competitor's content?) and stovepipe. Using the Internet use would end up looking like using a mobile phone. Useful, no doubt. But a shadow of what its former self. -- Sorry for the melodrama; but the current human architecture of the internet is very fortuitous, but was hardly inevitable. It emerged, largely unplanned, from a series of developments that could easily have happened elsehow. There are other ways of creating a world wide network, that would do almost all that the net does, but provide much more top-down control.

Alarmest BS (2, Insightful)

harris s newman (714436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114398)

How much is Google paying you to say this? Is Yahoo, Bing, not to mention startpage [startpage.com] not capable of filling the void?

Faulty assumption (1)

AjaxIII (1237230) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114406)

There is a pretty big assumption in this article. The assumption is that Things will change, and google isn't smart enough to change their business model to compensate for changes. If ad revenue goes down to the point that google can not support their services, they can supplement that with a small charge for all of the services they offer. I'd happily pay a couple bucks a month for the google maps, reader, email, voice, translation, calendar, docs, wave, etc. They have many option available to them that may not be obvious now, but may be an option when the "Ad Bubble" pops. Plus it sounds like they are breaking into other areas, ie ISP, etc. I think they've shown enough intelligence to not cling desperatly to a failing business model, assuming things change enough to make their business model fail.

Too big for free services? Maybe (1)

HotBBQ (714130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114408)

but not too big to fail. If Google decides it isn't making enough profit from advertising to give away services such as Gmail, Maps, etc. they can always start charging for it. I suspect there would be quite an uproar, but most would end up paying. I know I would.

Overdose of Adverts is Why People Use Wikipedia (5, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114424)

When you search on almost anything on Google, all you get is a listing of people who sell some item with your search term in the product name. Sometimes it isn't even that. Sometimes it a page that is another advertising search page.

At least when you search for something in Wikipedia you get to a topic, not an advert. The fact that people select Wikipedia to go to so often is likely why a Wikipedia search result is almost always near the top of a Google search. Most of the time, it is the only type of information a person is looking for. 'Tell me about subject xyz', I don't want to fucking buy it, just learn about it. A lot of the time now, except when looking for product (one I have already bought) or programming forums I just search Wikipedia immediately. The articles also usually have enough external links to get me surfing for more info without needing to use Google too much.

advertising bubble? (1)

hyperion2010 (1587241) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114430)

Maybe advertising is a bubble, but sometimes there really are products out there that would make your life 1000 times easier if you knew about them (if only university procurement departments could somehow be enlightened about the existence of 3ply toilet paper).

This seems like a nonissue... (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114466)

If, in fact, the efficacy and saleability of online ads is crumbling, then we are currently enjoying a period where assorted google services and development initiatives are being subsidized for us by the suckers at various firms with advertising budgets. Presumably, if they catch on to the fact that they aren't getting bang for their buck, that subsidy will dry up.

It is always a sad occasion to lose a subsidy that was previously benefiting you; but it is only a disaster if there aren't other ways of paying for whatever it is that you need. In the case of Google, they have already been playing with pricing schemes for enterprise versions of various of their services, and it wouldn't be rocket surgery for them to roll out retail equivalents if the ad market really tanks(Frankly, I for one would in some respects be relieved to be paying straight, rather than in personal data). Given their years of experience running their services on the comparatively thin sauce of advertising money, Google could still easily offer very competitive pricing.

The people I would be much more worried about are the huge number of random third party websites that run ads in order to more-or-less break even on bandwidth/hosting. Because Google is big, and comparatively trusted, and offers services that most of its users use more or less continually(ie. I might visit "randomwebsite.com" once, or once every few months, but I'm likely to check a gmail account or do a bunch of google searches every day to every few days). If the ad market does in fact tank, Google, and similar large entities, will be able to just start billing directly without transaction costs eating them alive. Since micropayments are still more or less a pipe dream, the little guys won't be able to do the same.

Having to pay $X/year for gmail would be a minor nuisance. Having large numbers of ideosyncratic 3rd party sites either dry up or move into walled gardens who would act as payment processors/aggregators(Hello iTunes!) would be a serious and negative change to the web.

This is particularly a concern because, while Google is quite good at what it does, most of its offerings are in substantially commodified markets. Gmail is one of the better free webmail services out there; but it is hardly the only one. Even if all free webmail services dried up, pay webmail services of quite modest cost are also a dime a dozen. Our only "absolute dependence" on Google is exactly the same dependence on any email provider, the fact that switching email addresses sucks. In search, again, Google is good at search; but switching to a different search page isn't terribly difficult. A few legacy devices/programs that depend on some search API and cannot be usefully updated might be up shit creek; but everybody else would be fine. Android would probably suffer if its primary developer/main unifying backer disappeared or defunded the project; but there would be nothing stopping the core OSS components moving forward on the devices of whoever wanted to use them. The fact that all this has traditionally been free is handy; but switching to paying for it, either from Google or from somebody else, would be doable.

It is the thousands of random little guys, occupying all the weird little unique niches, that would be more of an issue. Few of them are large enough to make subscription pricing reasonable, even if people would stand for that, and micropayment is going nowhere outside of walled gardens that aggregate the micropayments, which aren't a terribly encouraging development.

Sheesh, really/ (1)

flattop100 (624647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114532)

kdawson posts the stupidest stories on /. I'm going to categorically skip anything posted.

Too Big to Fail? (1)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114542)

They said the same thing about the Titanic...

it you take out Google this sounds like TV (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114586)

You do not see stories like this worrying about TV and it is all supported by advertising.

Dear Blogger, (2, Funny)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114590)

Yo momma so fat, Obama said she's too big to fail.

Too big to fail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114592)

Kinda like your mom.

Hmm, unlikely (2, Interesting)

jbb999 (758019) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114630)

The whole article depends on this statement which is presented without any evidence, and in fact I don't even have any clear idea what it even means?

Eventually advertising will evolve into information, companies with products will go direct, they won't need go pay Google to reach them

It all seems rather unlikely, I can imagine someone slowly taking away google's advertisign business but I don't see that advertising will suddenly disapear which is what this article seems to be based on

Just like ads on TV went away with Pay TV? (1)

Nzimmer911 (1553899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114662)

The advertising bubble will pop right after people stop acting like sheep. So long as the majority of consumers do what they are told to do advertising dollars are safe, and so are our "free" Google services. In reality they aren't free, it's a free market barter of our usage information for their tools and apps.

We know what that means: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114680)

"to big to be allowed to fail".

The banks/insurers have demonstrated that "to big to fail" does not mean they can't fail.

'too big to fail.' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31114684)

'too big to fail.'? Say that to the Roman Empire...

Split big companies (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114712)

Most innovation appears to come from small and medium companies. Larger companies tend to spend most of their resources protecting their turf using their size as their main weapon, not innovation. Microsoft, GM, and IBM (of 70's) are probably the poster-boys of big-but-stagnant companies. Sure, IBM of the 70's pioneered some novel ideas, but not in proportion to their size. Mini's and micro's were where most of the action was. Microsoft gets a lot of credit for ideas that they actually stole or bought from rivals.

Japan used to protect its domestic car industry. However, it had about a dozen companies competing with each other *in* Japan, and this is where the current giants such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan came from. Having a dozen companies made them more competitive than the US Big-3. The Big-3 tended to be clubby, making them lethargic. By some accounts, if an ad attacked a rival's Detroit brand too harshly, a "gentleman's agreement" was made between CEO's to back off. Having 12 instead of 3 car co's made a noticeable difference.

The right-wing side of our government likes to talk about the power of competition, yet don't actually back it because they let companies grow too large in the name of non-government-interference. The problem is that these two goals may be in conflict. (Democrats are only marginally better in this regard, I should point out, perhaps because of the influence of heavy lobbying.)

Further, splitting a company is not necessarily punishing a company. It just becomes two medium-sized companies instead of one big one. It may bother some in upper management who want an empire, but screw them. Having a vibrant and diverse market-place is more important, and the evidence is that splitting works. Perhaps the "splitties" should be given nice tax breaks for a few years to make the transition a bit more pleasant.

Bullshit (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 4 years ago | (#31114730)

Ya know what? I remember when AltaVista, Yahoo, and HotBot were too big. AOL was too. Notice how the advertisers always find someplace else to go, they always go to whatever the latest hot new thing is. So no, I don't think there's anything new to see here.
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