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At What Point Does Google Become Too Powerful?

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As I said in this blog, I thought the news from Google about introducing a public DNS was somewhat frightening, as it represents this massive horizontal Goliath going vertical down to the very roots of the internet.  So at what point does Google become too powerful?

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  • I think that point would be if and when choice is removed from the market. Even though their services are, as stated, going down to the very roots of the Internet, users still have choice.

    If this were "Attention GMail users... you must switch to Google Public DNS by this date, or you will no longer be able to access GMail," we would be facing very different circumstances. As is, another player in the DNS space is going to help more than hurt, since it turns up the heat on everyone else (including ourselves, with the DynDNS.com Internet Guide free recursive DNS services).

    Granted, we're in a different space, where we're providing a content-filtering and phishing/malware protection value-add in addition to a blazing fast recursive DNS service, whereas Google Public DNS is a blazing fast recursive DNS service.

  • I love a good Armageddon story...

    When Google becomes to big to fail, as AIG was, then we have reached the point that the company is too powerful.

    Does the financial security of the world depend on Google? Does a large percentage of the nation's workforce depend on Google for a job? Does the security and availability of the Internet rely on Google's continued existence?

    Once we answer 'yes' to any one of these then the company is too powerful. As it is right now, the Internet would continue to exist without Google.

    If the free-market Internet is able to obscure toxic assets as the financial markets did, we may have trouble in the future. Any one superpowerful company could be a threat if it owns so many parts that the system becomes a house of cards. If Google went away one day, the company could be considered to be too powerful if the Internet's technical fault-tolerance can not overcome the fact that someone switched off too many parts of it to recover.

    Possibly the biggest lost to human-kind if Google went away right now would be the lack of discussion on the Wave beta of what the Google logo has morphed into on a holiday or special event.

    Phil

  • Hmmm... Google will soon offer an OS, has a mobile OS, browser, productivity apps, a back-end app engine, email, storage, e-commerce, and social networking tools. Basically a Microsoft of the clouds. By the way, Microsoft is fighting like mad to get ahead in the search business. Perhaps these two are good counter-balances to each other to prevent single-vendor domination.

  • Same answer as Phil and Cory but from a slightly different angle.

    Yes, when choice is removed and competition is stifled. In addition, when their behavior becomes anti competitive as well. Forms of that behavior might be the "cut off the oxygen supply" strategy that MS alledgedly used to snuff out Netscape. Or other gorilla behavior like buying start ups that threaten their model and then shut them down, like the EU fears that Oracle will do with MySQL.

    But free market choice is the critical element. Even though there are a limited number of true database alternatives the market is not monopolized. Even though the telecom market has consolidated almost to its previous form there are choices. There are PC OS choices as well.

    When Google starts to be able to pursue predatory behavior and impose its will on the market it has become too powerful for our market structure and principles.

  • Does Google Become too powerful? not yet. I usually ask the opposite question: Will companies Survive in the following ten years?. You can find questions and answers relating to vendors such as Microsoft, HP, Sun, EMC, Software AG etc.in the vendor survival posts in my blog. As far as Google is concerned, you can read the post Will Google survive until 2018? at
    http://avirosenthal.blogspot.com/2008/09/will-google-survive-until-2018.html
    Google is currently the dominant Web services vendor
    leading the Search Engine, Web advertisement and videos (YouTube) and may be the e-mail market. It is not the leader of any other market.
    In order to become too powerful Google should dominant Enterprise infrastructure and/or systems in addition to the Web 2.0 or Web 3.0 market. I do not think this is going to happen in the next 5 years.

  • Interesting piece in the NY Times today on this topic - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/opinion/28raff.html?ref=opinion.

    There used to be FCC regulations about companies owning broadcast tv, newspaper and radio operations in the same locations. It was feared that they could control content too much. These regulations are being revisited now that traditional media companies are fighting for survival.

    When does the FCC view Google's content control in the same way?

  • As an SEO/Online Marketer, Google is a behemoth. Simply looking at site analysis you can see that the proportion of traffic share reaches into the 90%. Their venture into other mediums such as mobile, television, video, blogging and social media to name a few shows that they are expanding into all forms of media. Have a look at the Wiki page for Google as it has a list of all products and services under the Google umbrella (it's not quite War and Peace" but it is getting there.

    Google's motto "don't be evil" takes the menace out of "too powerful" however envisaging any slow down to the company growth and potential collapse is nigh on impossible.

    Google has integrated itself so much into society that I can't imagine the web without it.

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