Monday, January 24, 2005

Google And Browsers And More

I just read news, Google Snaps Up Top Firefox Programmer. The guy, Ben Googler, I mean Goodger, (how did his parents know, or rather ancestors), announced the news on his blog. That tells you where he belongs.

In one of Larry Ellison's biographies, the earlier ill-written one, there is talk of how the guy - his lifestory reads like fascinating - would promise of software that half the time never got delivered, but he hogged marketshare anyway! Google is the opposite of that. It delivers and surprises. Noone saw the digitizing libraries project coming.

But there is such noise Google is angling for a browser. That would be a major step. You have a slim machine running on Linux, you download a Google browser, you do your word procesing online - the technology is already there, just look at all the features with Blogger, Gmail meets all your email needs, personal as well as work, and so on, and where is Microsoft now! You handle all your text, audio, video, data processing stuff online. There is no Desktop, so to speak of. Wow. I mean, with Internet2, you have 10 gigabytes per second kind of speed. You are always on. With that kind of reliability, you won't need a desktop.

Two schools emerged within Microsoft in the mid-1990s, one Windows, but the other one wanted a new universe entirely around a browser. MSFT would be the gorilla dot com. But Gates squashed that effort. To Gates' credit, he gave some valid reasons, like, how do you make money if you give everything away! (Google's answer: you sell ads, stupid!)

Windows made Microsoft what it is, but it also might be the albatross around its neck.

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

Not Hardware, Not Software, But Connectivity

There is plenty left to be desired on the hardware and software fronts, but the real bottleneck in getting all 6 billion potential surfers online is neither, but connectivity. What business models could emerge to bridge up the digital divide?

Two technology models that hold promise: (1) broadband over power lines: zip, fast too, and (2) wireless broadband.

Internet access is fast becoming a basic need. What do you need to survive? Food and water are obvious. After that free internet access might be pretty close. I am serious.

The word "free" is important there. You don't pay for television shows. You don't pay to search on Google. The ad-model works just fine. The same could apply to internet access.

Say a company (or two, or three) comes forth, and they beam internet access to all corners of the planet. The catch being, when you go online with them, they, not you decide what the homepage will look like. And for that first webpage, they bring you online for "free." Heck, they might even get you to use only their browser, in which case, they could keep a toolbar that will always be with you no matter where you go online.

A click is a click is a click. I am sure a company like Coke/Pepsi does not care who the human being is. They will want people everywhere to see their ads.

And such a democratizing force that universal internet access will be too. Nothing like that to empower the individual. How will autocracies - those that remain - sustain themselves in the aftermath? They plain can't. Social transformation will be quickened. Universal education will become a reality, and it will be seamless from one level to another. A student in Bhutan could be following lectures at MIT.

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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Google: Poised To Be The Number One Software Company In The World

I am a die-hard fan of Google, have been since its inception. It keeps lifting you up. The most recent two lift-ups for me were, well three: (1) Gmail, (2) Google Scholar, and (3) Google Print and the news about Google digitizing some major libraries.

Google is like Wal-Mart; you walk into a Wal-Mart and you have seen their entire business model.

The idea behind Google print is monumental. It is going to transform the web. The web otherwise has been whistling along like a near empty vessel.

But Google has barely scratched the Google surface.

Let's extend the Google Print vision such that authors the world over, new and accomplished, could entirely skip the publishing industry. You are an author. You sign up and open an account with Google Print for free. You publish what and when you want to publish. All money you make is entirely through Google text-ad-click-throughs. Entire new books in all categories. There is no print version. And the complete text is online for readers for "free," kind of like shows on TV. The "price" on "books" will drop astronomically: they will be gone! No paper. No publishing company. No traditional marketing. This is nothing less than transforming the whole idea of what a book is.

Readers will also have the option to open free accounts. So they can bookmark books. And place bookmarks inside books, or take notes.

Extend that to articles. And desktop word processing becomes irrelevant, especially when people will have the option to have search-engine-protected documents also, or documents with limited circulation. You decide which Google IDs may view it.

The internet is but a fancy telephone: it is a communication tool that makes geography and more irrelevant. Makes socio-economic schisms less of a hassle. Heck, it lets you communicate with dead people through their books. You communicate with people who will be born after you are gone.

The Google Print idea extends to audio and video. For that you are talking new, bold hardware infrastructure just round the corner. An internet computer that you can buy for less than $100 that you could change like underwear if you wanted to. The point being to crack open the 6 billion mass: the more the total number of web surfers, the more money Google makes. The only thing the machine does is it takes you online, preferably at super fast speeds. Memory is a total non-issue for text-audio-video due to nano.

Text-audio-video-photo. Photos get "downloaded" straight from your camera to your online storage where you do all the editing. And all content generates revenue the same way.


At that point Google becomes the number one software company in the world and keeps the throne for a few decades. IBM was a hardware company, that is why Microsoft came along as sexier. But MSFT is a desktop company, it is no dot com. Whereas Google is the sexiest dot com there is. That is why it will take over the lead.

Google is a freaking revolution!

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