back to article Google: The one trick pony learns a second trick

Google has a nasty habit of cannibalizing others' businesses based on its own seemingly unassailable lead in search and online advertising. The problem is that each time this involves giving away free software and services to undermine competitors at the expense of growing its own. Or can Google make a business from giving …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A modern day water dictatorship

    If you're a ruler, the simplest way to keep the plebs under control is to give yourself (and enforce) the power to allot some vital resource. Someone does you a favour? Give them some more. Someone honks you off, cut off their supply.

    We've recently seen Russia do this to some ex-USSR states and their supply of oil and natural gas.

    In times gone by, the ruler used water as the subjugating force. Without it, crops died, farmers went broke, people starved.

    The neat thing about this technique is that you don't need a large army or internal security force to keep yourself at the top of the pile. You only need enough power to control your resource and everything else follows from that. The bad thing is that because you don't have a strong army or defensive force, while you can control internal threats you are very vulnerable to external ones. An invading army will have little trouble taking over as what forces you do have are not used to conflict: they're used to people doing what they're told.

    Historically, water dictatorships seem invulnerable when viewed from the inside but their fall is inevitable.

    So it is with Google. They have a firm grip on the internet's jugular. They control who gets the eyeballs that makes the advertising pay the rent. They don't need to be competitive, or innovative. They just need to batter competitors to death with their giant wad - and if that doesn't work, turn off the eyeballs. However, as soon as someone comes along who is NOT dependent on advertisements or search hits they're screwed.

    The question is who, what and when.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree...

      What Google is doing now is merely what others have done in the IT arena before it.

      The difference is that we can get our water from different sources and the moment that Google does enough to make society turn its back on Google ... another company will be waiting in the wings. Another service, which has chugged along with no reputation to speak of, will get the traffic.

      Such is the power of international communication ... changes like that could literally happen overnight if what Google did was bad enough.

      At least in this game, they are not the only supplier of water and never will be. Personally, I use Yahoo for my primary searches and only turn to Google when I haven't found what I want in the first few pages. At least I can be a little more confident that, even though I'm still probably being spoon fed results ... I have the choice over which spoon :-)

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Water dictators?

      Can you name some?

      [Some people mention Israel's wars as "it was really about water" but that's just not true; though later conflict may come for that reason, it hasn't happened there yet.]

      1. Graham Marsden

        @Marvin the Martian

        Try searching (or googling!) for "Hydraulic Empire" or "Hydraulic Despotism"

    3. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      You mean

      Who controls the spice, controls the universe. ;)

  2. Bram

    Couldnt agree more

    Google do need to develop other revenue streams other than advertising. In the long run you can never be sure of what may happen and diversiification of revenue streams is always a good idea.

    All monopolies come to an end all you have to do is look to some of the rumblings at the core of the Walmart business or to News International in the UK.

    1. Marvin the Martian

      "Or can Google make a business from giving competitors fits?"

      Blackmail would seem to be the obvious way forward?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Thease are monopolies?

      Wow, I didn't know Wal-Mart or News Corp. were monopolies either globally, or in any particular market.

      Perhaps it's because I actually know what a monopoly is?



      noun, plural -lies.

      1. exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices. Compare duopoly, oligopoly.

      1. The First Dave


        In these cases, the important part is:

        "or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices."

        1. Raphael M
          Thumb Down


          They don't control exclusively ads or search, people seek their search out of their own volition because it is good for them and content producers put google ads in their pages because it is good for them.

          Everybody wins and no one is locked into this system.

        2. Snarky

          What price control?

          Google has exhibited no ability to control prices, little ability to influence prices at all, and no ability to charge consumers for much of anything. Pretty much the opposite end of the spectrum from monopoly.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Another GCSE economics expert

        Now, go see what the legal definition is.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Anecdotal, but....

    I've switched to G+ and so far have managed to tempt across about 25% of the people form my Facebook friends list - roughly 40% of the people who I had email addresses for to send the G+ invites to.

    Of those who've switched, they all seem to be expressing a like for G+ and its friendlier feel and better control over who sees your posts and info. I'd even go so far as to say they're vastly preferring it over Facebook. I've noticed those people have started posting almost exclusively to Google now and their Facebook activity has died off.

    Obviously this is just a small sample set of people I know, but this switch has taken place in less than a week. It took about 2 or 3 years of people telling them they needed to be on Facebook for many of these people to even get around to signing up in the first place, yet a single invite to an alternative service has made them jump ship almost immediately. Maybe this is more of an indictment of what Facebook has become than praise for G+, but there have been a number of comments about how much 'friendlier' G+ seems to the beginner. Also, the recent changes to Facebook's Chat function seems to be really annoying users who are seeing absolutely no benefit to it and can see Google's chat is much simpler to use.

    As always, your mileage may vary :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've been trying... get a look at that but it seems to be closed off. I take it they've also stopped new invites as well. Facebook has turned, for me, in to an ad-hock channel, more like a Twitter feed than a full on social experience. It would be good to see what Google are getting up to but I'm just going to have to wait.

      1. Semihere
        Thumb Up

        Re: I've been trying...

        I'm still managing to send out invites OK here. Everyone who took up my invite has immediately been sending their own invites out without a problem. If you know anybody who already has an account, ask them to send you an invite. :)

      2. Anonymous Coward


        "Facebook has turned, for me, in to an ad-hock channel, more like a Twitter feed than a full on social experience"

        The Facebook you see is entirely based on your friends. It's not Mr Zs fault that your friends bore you, and they will be just as bad on Google+. Perhaps if you remove 75% of your "friends" from the list of hundreds you may get more useful stuff on your wall?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Is it friendlier because....

      ...they've kept out the riff-raff.

      When you read ranty blog and YouTube comments, you wonder how these people even know how turn their monitors on. They don't deserve the internet. Perhaps there should be an entrance exam to use G+.

      1. Kristian Walsh

        A garden of pure ideology, indeed.

        Who need diversity, anyway? It's just a load of other people who are wrong.

    3. Someone Else Silver badge

      Just one thing to remember...

      You are NOT their customer...

      You are their PRODUCT.

  4. Turtle

    NOt quite...

    No, you missed one. "Cannibalizing others' businesses" is Google's THIRD trick. Google's SECOND trick is "content theft and enabling and abetting content theft".

    1. Martin Owens

      Content Theft!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Any examples yet?

      No? Didn't think so! (Mine's the one with an A to Z in the pocket. So, *obviously*, I'm forced to steal something in every street.)

      1. DavCrav


        "No? Didn't think so!"

        Examples of stealing others' content? Google books? Youtube? I think two is enough.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Not good enough.

          There is no special legal exemption for Google. They do remove videos, soundtracks etc. on YouTube just as anyone else would have to do. Google Books? Only public domain works are available in full. Snippets of copyrighted works are, arguably, fair use (unless you think quotation is some sort of infringement of an author's rights?)

          1. Gordon 10 Silver badge


            Snippets from copyrighted works are still copyright. Especially if as google you are using then for commercial advantage.

            1. Anonymous Coward


              So nobody can legally sell a book, newspaper or magazine that quotes anybody else's work? Utter cobblers!

              1. DavCrav

                Argument fail

                "So nobody can legally sell a book, newspaper or magazine that quotes anybody else's work? Utter cobblers!"

                Sure, they can But in order for Google to offer you the particular snippet you want they must have -- for commercial gain, presumably -- copies the entire work and stored it, which sounds like commercial copyright theft to me, unless they got the copyright holder's permission BEFORE doing this. Note that this includes orphan works in the rest of the world, and even in the US, regardless of what pretend agreement they made with publishers associations in the US. (I fail to see what right publishing associations in the US have over even US orphan works, never mind those of the rest of the world.)

            2. DavCrav


              "Snippets of copyrighted works are, arguably, fair use (unless you think quotation is some sort of infringement of an author's rights?)"

              Just checked on Google books, and my book (released last month), vastly more than snippets as far as I can tell, is available on Google Books, without me, as joint copyright holder, being notified, never mind asked, as is legally required. That's copyright infringement.

              Why should I have to inform Google that I don't want them copying my book?

            3. Snarky

              Fair use doctrine.

              No case there.

              1. DavCrav

                I don't know if you are replying to me...

                "Fair use doctrine, no case there".

                1) I don't live in the US. No fair use doctrine in UK law. US law =/= world law.

                2) Fair use doctrine does not allow the uploading of complete chapters of my book to a server and then displaying ads next to them to make money off my content without paying me.

          2. Oninoshiko

            Good enough.

            Public domain works are in the public domain, 'tis true (unless you happen to be Japanese), but "orphan works" are not (or did we forget about those?).

  5. Jeff Wolfers

    High Stakes

    No question that the tech nexus of Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are circling each other, thrusting and slashing trying to take off hunks of each others core businesses.

    Bing goes after G search. + goes after FB. Amazon attacks iTunes, etc

    It's a great show that has but one beneficiary. Us! Competition is good. I don't care who 'wins' All I know is these new products and services are overall, quite spectacular and together are moving tech forward at an amazing pace.

    May the best one(s) win!

    1. Hayden Clark Silver badge

      No, it doesn't benefit us.

      Because if we win, they lose, and that ain't gonna happen.

      Instead, the big beasts will eat each other, until there is only one - or at least, until whatever is left can act as one. Then the surviving entity no longer needs to court us, and can continue with the original game plan of exploiting us.

      1. ratfox

        If we win, they lose?

        Care to compare the smartphone offer from say, four years ago with now? I'd say we are getting more, and for less.

        And Google might have a quasi monopoly on search; but that is because they are working hard to keep it. If the current Bing had existed 10 years ago, it would have kicked the ass of the then Google search engine. I don't mind having people working overclock to let me find stuff on the web more easily.

        1. scarshapedstar

          Time machines

          "And Google might have a quasi monopoly on search; but that is because they are working hard to keep it. If the current Bing had existed 10 years ago, it would have kicked the ass of the then Google search engine."

          If Windows 7 had existed 10 years ago, Apple would be a footnote today. Hell, if the Nazis had smartphones and the Internet in WWII, D-Day would have been a total flop.

          1. Reg Blank

            Is this where Godwin's law is invoked?

            Only if Eisenhower was a teenaged girl with a Facebook account and Bradley Manning was assigned to SHAEF.

            Also, if Biblical Galilee had smartphones and the Internet then Mary might have been better informed about her family planning options, and Joseph could have seen her "It's complicated" status and steered clear.

            And maybe if 18th Century French dandies had smartphones and the Internet then the Marquis de Sade would have been a hopeless porn addict, compulsive masturbator and sufferer of terrible RSI pain.

          2. ratfox

            @Time machines

            Missed my point, I think. The point was, Google is getting better all the time because of the competition. So it is good that there is competition.

  6. borkbork

    oh come on

    Facebook did not invent the social network.

    Apple did not invent the touchscreen smartphone.

    Both companies improved on what came before. Are you saying that IOS/facebook are the height of perfection and that nobody else can even try to improve on them?

    1. Ru

      Re: oh come on

      As was mentioned by a reg article last week, being a little better isn't necessarily enough.

      Both iOS and Facebook were dramatically better than their predecessors (winmo, symbian) in every way that people cared about. Switching was a no brainer. What isn't going to take the world by storm is a 'me, too!' product that improves on the alternatives by a little bit in a few areas, especially when there's a large, entrenched and relatively happy userbase.

      This particular failing is hardly unique to google though. Look at what Microsoft have been trying to do for the last few years. At least Bing has the advantage of being a painless alternative, unlike (say) google+ and silverlight, which require an investment of time and effort to take part in a much smaller ecosystem.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: oh come on

        I think what Google have done though is capitalise on the dissatisfaction of Facebook's userbase. Most FB users are only there because their friends are, and given a choice they'd prefer to use a different service. One where they can understand the privacy controls a little better, and can understand the chat features (which are much like the FB chat used to be).

        It's not just about making a better service, it's as much about making a less bad service. :)

        1. Lusty

          Re: Re: Re: oh come on

          "One where they can understand the privacy controls a little better"

          Oh I understood the G+ privacy alright. When I joined they said that I could either A) not join or B) allow all my friends on G+ share MY photos from Picassa without my permission.

          A friend of mine signed up, realised it wasn't better than FB and closed his account. His account remains yet he was under the impression that it had closed.

          1. scarshapedstar

            Say what?

            "Oh I understood the G+ privacy alright. When I joined they said that I could either A) not join or B) allow all my friends on G+ share MY photos from Picassa without my permission."

            I don't think Picasa renders the print screen key inoperable, so I don't understand exactly what protection you feel you're losing.

  7. Doug 3

    um, Microsoft pays vendors to use Windows too

    you make it sound like Google sharing it's ad revenue with Android licensees is this evil thing and completely blow over how Microsoft has been paying vendors for years. they've paid vendors like HP to ship Windows CE on handhelds and they've paid vendors to put XP on netbooks all at the expense of any other OS. Sure, it's called something like The Microsoft Marketing Program but the effect is money gets paid back to the vendor for shipping Microsoft software.

    But you hit a BIG point in the article. Google makes money from advertising and they can give some of the money generated by users of devices back to the makers of the devices. This is a game changer in the old school software world and no doubt it has Microsoft and other shaking in their boots.

    As for why Google put Android on the market, Microsoft did a great job at crushing the handheld computer market and left it languishing and the Palm Treo OS wasn't up to the task. Apple finally shipped the iPhone and Android was sent back to the drawing board. What was shipped was not set out to be an "iPhone Killer" but to get more mobile users on the internet and using Google search. Apple was keeping distribution of the iPhone restricted to one vendor, AT&T, and pricing it to the high end. This is not new news and Google has even stated themselves that they want more people on the internet which will mean more eyes on their ads. That is unless you partner with Microsoft and therefore you're tied to a distant 2nd in search, ie BING, and are also enemies with Google by proxy.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    re: "But the company needs to become as good at building new businesses (not just products) as it is at wrecking others' businesses."

    Why in the world would they need to do that? Unless they plan to be broken up by the U.S. Justice Department, they don't need to bother with new businesses.

    Also, is there some reason you used 'wrecking' instead of 'undermining'. Why should they care at all what happens to their competition?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge


      You contradict yourself. If Google's competition shrivels into irrelevancy, the US DoJ will start treating Google like the monopolist that Microsoft had become when its competition was eradicated. So Google had better care damn well what happens to their competition.

      1. Reg Blank


        Monopolies are not in themselves illegal, therefore they are not punishable by break-up.

        The Sherman Antitrust Act (which I refer to only because MS and Google are US-based) draws a distinction between innocent monopolies (those that come about because of a superior product or better management) and coercive monopolies (those that come about because of unlawful practices).

        Those that have been broken up (Standard Oil, Bell, etc) have either been due to criminal activities or for compelling economic reasons (that is, the monopoly stifled competition or the emergence of new competition). Google does neither of these things.

        Regarding Microsoft, although they settled with the government in the end, the original suit was for tying, which is an illegal activity. To my knowledge, Google doesn't engage in tying. For instance, they don't compel you to have a Gmail account to use their search engine. Having a product which is very popular doesn't count.

  9. Tom 7 Silver badge

    makes Windows into a viable mobile competitor?

    In the same way walking is better than flying if there is a madman with an ack-ack gun at the airport!

    All I see here is MS getting a taste of its own medicine but the pharmacy its getting it from actually seems to know what its serving up.

    Google is a one-trick pony but MS is the circus pickpocket.

    There are a million ways to beat MS and Facebook - but to beat google you need to stop people using adverts. That's a much greater hill to climb than getting people to waste their time with silicons help.

  10. Ami Ganguli

    Copying other peoples products is a proven business model...

    ... with Microsoft being the most successful example.

    For those of us who were around to see the likes of WordPerfect and CPM eclipsed by inferior MS products, what Google is doing feels like poetic justice.

    And the Google products are often damn good, which is a truly novel twist on the old copy and undercut business model.

    1. Solomon Grundy

      Word Perfect

      was really pretty terrible. Back when I still wrote papers I always hated using it.

    2. Sid James


      If I remember rightly WordPerfect lost because it was slow to bring out a windows version, preferring to stay in the DOS world. Word obviously had one, even if it was slow and inferior, but that was what the public wanted, thus it won.

      1. Goat Jam


        They also followed MS advice which was to develop their WYSIWYG version for OS/2.

        Who was to know that MS was secretly developing their own GUI called Windows in direct violation of their agreement with IBM and their publicly stated goals?

        When Windows came out, MS Word soon followed which left Worperfect with obsolete product before they'd even finished developing it.

        Sometimes I do miss the Evil Bill Gates icon.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I Eat Cannibals

    Alongside Toto Coelo, one of the true horrors of the 80s was Microsoft's habit of cannibalizing other companies, both competitors and insignificant start-ups alike. Stac's Stacker compression software was a particularly egregious example, and one of the least remembered. If cannibalization is a business model, I admit that I find it most amusing to see that model itself cannibalized, and turned against its great innovator.

    There is, in short, nothing new, and certainly nothing unfair, in what Google is doing to Microsoft. The only true source of creativity I see in today's tech landscape is Apple, inventor of the cell phone, the tablet, and the MP3 player, and a company nobody could ever accuse of undercutting competitors on price.

    1. AbortRetryFail

      re: I Eat Cannibals

      You said: "The only true source of creativity I see in today's tech landscape is Apple, inventor of the cell phone, the tablet, and the MP3 player"

      This is a joke, I presume? Apple invented none of those.

      1. Eponymous Cowherd


        Apple has some claim to the tablet (with the Newton), but it was more of a PDA than a tablet.

        1. Hayden Clark Silver badge


          Amstrad PDA600 - out first, worked better.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Not true

          I would say the GridPad is the first commercial tablet. Everyone else has just been improving the concept.

      2. General Zod


        Of course it's a joke--don't be daft.

    2. mark 63 Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      didnt know apple were so inventive

      agree on toto but:

      "The only true source of creativity I see in today's tech landscape is Apple, inventor of the cell phone, the tablet, and the MP3 player,"

      whut? really? I know they currently make the popular ones but surely they didnt invent those things?

      1. Anonymous Coward


        "You know a conjurer gets no credit when once he has explained his trick; and if I show you too much of my method of working, you will come to the conclusion that I am a very ordinary individual after all."

  12. Dave 142

    What a choice

    So it's either Google, MS or Facebook in charge of the internet. What a choice.

  13. poohbear

    Gee Whizz Matt

    I think Matt is losing the plot somewhere, or his apparent hate of Google is clouding his thinking.

    As others have pointed out, Microsoft invented and perfected the game of Embrace and Destroy, killing numerous small companies who thought MS was their Best Buddy along the way (and earning their MS is Evil reputation).

    Perhaps Matt has not seen this: (redirects to page on Google+. What do you mean you can't access it?).

    Google is not just tackling FB, they're tackling Microsoft. I've had reports that Hangouts are way better than Skype. So with Google+ and the interface to the rest of Google's offering, Google is aiming at Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Skype.

    I reluctantly joined FB but jumped at the chance to get on G+, and the level of discussion there is way superior to the drivel of 26 Pictures of my Cat on FB (though I suppose my circles on G+ are a different calibre at the moment).

    Goldman Sachs should be worried. And like I've said before, BillG got out at the right time, leaving someone else to carry the can for a failing business.

    1. Ru


      Because MS have done it, this makes it an acceptable business practise? Or is it that unfair business practises are fair game when used against companies who have abused their position of power in the past?

      Remember that once upon a time, Microsoft were taking on the big bad monopolists, too. Nowadays, Google are pushing the notion of a 'Free*' internet, where everything is ad-supported and everything you do is monitored, processed and sold. Forgive me for not thinking this is the greatest thing ever, simply because it undermines Microsoft's business model.

      The enemy of your enemy is just waiting their turn.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        You have missed out the important distinction:

        When someone I don't like does something questionable then they must be destroyed

        When someone I do like does the same thing, well that's OK, they mean well after all and at least they are not <insert name of disliked company here>

        As you say, MS were a godsend against the likes of Apple and IBM back in the late 80's and early 90's (and conversely provided a very welcome foil to Novell's lack of innovation or improvements), Novell were the industry darlings when they countered SCO and then immediately became pariahs when they dealt with MS, Apple were evil monopolists in the 80s and saviours of the world in the early 2000s. Linux was going to revolutionise the desktop in the 90s, then the 2000s and now the 2010s - but despite the obvious attractions it still hasn't taken off in any numbers.

        Remember though, none of the companies mentioned, whether saint or sinner is doing what they do for any reason other than to make bucketloads of cash.

        It is not just companies that this is relevant to: Back in the 80s the Taliban were our friends because they were fighting those nasty Russians, today the Libyan rebels are our friends because they are fighting that nasty Colonel Gadaffi. Interesting to see what this conversation will be like in 5 or 10 years from now, really.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Stupid is as stupid does

          "MS were a godsend against the likes of Apple ..."

          Anti-apple bias writ large. But very definitely the stupidest thing I have read today ...


          1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Anyone whos believes Appla (and IBM) were monopolists in the late '80s...

              ...was either not there, or doesn't understand the term 'monopolist' or was taking mind altering substances at the time.

              Apple have never been the dominant player in home/small business computing from 1976 until now. By the late '80s IBM had already been seen off by Microsoft in software and the clone makers in hardware.

          2. Anonymous Coward

            Appl = Monopoly

            I was in this business since the 70s, and had the very first Lisa in Australia on my desk at home!

            Please explain to me when and why you all think Apple were monopolists previously - ever?

            I fail to comprehend the downvotes for pointing out the bleeding obvious.


        2. jocaferro

          "any numbers"...

          "but despite the obvious attractions it still hasn't taken off in any numbers."

          Any numbers?

          Care to explain please?

          Last time I saw only it was only the "desktop" that Linux don't dominate!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hangouts better than Skype

      I don't know about the video quality - it's pretty low rent, but the concept works great in practice.

      Personally, my biggest beef with Skype is the way they've really made a mess of the interface. It used to be clean, compact and useful. Now it's huge with no reason for being - it doesn't make it any easier to use, it just makes me less likely to leave it running like I used to. I know there's a compact 'online contacts list', but it's not really any more compact than the main interface used to be and requires me to manually open it when I log in and close the main contacts list... sloppy. Not really a surprise that once MS got involved the interface got ruined LOL. Oh well, back to Adium :)

  14. Stephen Gray

    Missing the point?

    When Google came along I was delighted that a new player with at least a nod to not being corporate twats was making waves. Now I think they're the same if not worse (because they claim to be nice) as all the rest.

  15. Sil

    A one trick pony

    Goggle is a one trick pony.

    Every "successful biz” from Google was purchased, not created internally: Android, Youtube, Picasa, …

  16. sabroni Silver badge

    so it's ok..

    ..because Microsoft used to do this? I thought it was wrong when Microsoft did it, or do two wrongs make a right these days?

  17. David 30

    'Required' is a title

    >> Even if Google+ doesn't end up wholly lobotomizing Facebook

    Bit late to the party there.

  18. Solomon Grundy

    Facebook Content?

    So what if Facebook content is locked out of Google searches? The web is cleaner without all that crap anyway.

    "OMG GUYZ I pooped my pants at the party last night LOL"

    "My boss is stupid"

    "My girlfriend has been cheating on me with a guy who doesn't even play WoW. What can she see in him!!!"

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Hard to find a better example of the failure of the US patent system than Android

    I rarely agree with Open and Shut posts on the register, but I do broadly agree with this one. Android in particular seems to me to be a deeply depressing success story, in that it rips off another product, without adding anything very much, and a huge number of geeks cheer them on regardless.

    The trouble with a company like Google is that it means as an innovator you only have a very short window in which to make money. I expect it will about 2 years before there's a version of Android that does't suck on tablets, just like it was two years before Android mobile phones stopped sucking and became merely average.

    The problem with this is that you end up where we ended up with Windows; a second rate OS dominates the market, and there is no longer any motivation for anyone to try to do anything innovative for a while; what's the point when Google and Samsung will just do a knock-off version.

    Now given that Android is clearly mostly just a copy of iOS you'd think that Apple would be able to sue it out of existence. They *should* be able to, since they did all the work. But they can't, because the US patent system is so broken.

    Me, I'd rather buy an Apple product than a Google one. But the stats imply I'm very much in the minority.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: without adding anything very much

      Really, you mean you don;t see the ability to install apps from any source as adding 'anything very much'.

      Personally I hate the iOS interface, everything is too dumbed down IMHO and I struggle to use it/tinker as I like (funnily enough I'm finding that with a lot of web '2.0' things as well).

      The further Android steps away from the walled garden and the lobotomy inducing interface the happier I'll be! Don't get me wrong, I don't pretend to be indicative of the average user but I'd say the walled garden alone means there is a huge difference between Android and iOS.

      Even if the interface were the same, are you telling me if Apple (for some reason) decided to only allow fart apps you wouldn't consider the jump? OK you could jailbreak as you already have the phone.

      And if you want to talk about the US Patent System perhaps you should look at which company has become very keen on it of late

    2. scarshapedstar
      Thumb Down

      Ripped off what exactly?

      Android lets me write my own apps for free. I'm making money with my phone, and I'm just a biology student. Stick that in your apple and eat it.

      From my side of the reality distortion field, Android did true multitasking before iOS. iOS also just ripped off the notification pane that lets me, for example, respond to emails without even leaving a game. It also lets me toggle wifi/wireless/gps/autosync/flashlight/brightness instantly and effortlessly, but that's more of a feature of CyanogenMod, the open source Android variant that I run - don't act like Cydia is even in that ballpark, btw. I see that somebody's bringing Swype to iPhone, so maybe they will have a shot of taking back the texting speed record, although it requires jailbreak - haha.

      For all the talk of how Android is just a horrible copy of iOS, iPads and iPhones drive me nuts. I do have the dexterity to touch-type on the iPad keyboard, but gawd, it gets tiring quickly. There's nothing innovative about taking typing a keyboard - which ordinarily features things like tactile feedback and ridges to make sure you know where your fingers are - and just slapping it on a smooth glass screen and telling you it's the same thing. And then there's the brilliant experience of pulling up a cool video on the iPad, only to find that it uses Flash (horrors) and so I have to pull out my Android phone to play it.

      Android: It's kinda like if iOS let you do all the things that it doesn't.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    These Open and Shut pieces are starting to get tiresome and predictable. Another 'industry veteran' mixing a bit of what we already know with something a bit controversial to stir up a hornet's nest and make a name for himself.

    Facebook already had an over-inflated valuation before Google+ came along, ad free. It should have been under enough pressure to justify its ludicrous share price for what was essentially a one-trick pony: 'targeted' ads.

    I don't really see what the point of this article is. Everyone knows Google make well over 90% of their revenue from ads, but the point is they have a balanced portfolio of services, unlike Facebook. What G+ does it wrap them up with a social layer.

    By offering G+ without ads, they get more people onto the Google 'platform', which is no different (just the flip side) of what Facebook are attempting to do by trying to get their 700m+ users to move to a facebook 'email' address (but remember, Subjects are so yesterday).

    Both companies are after our data so they can sell it to advertisers. There is no difference.

    Facebook didn't invent the social network, Google didn't invent webmail (but they got it right, unlike Microsoft who totally wrecked Hotmail) and Apple most certainly didn't invent the smartphone (they just made it socially acceptable for public use).

    What they all did was develop a product into the right user experience.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    re: a reminder that Google plays by very different rules

    '...But it's a shot across Microsoft's bow, and a reminder that Google plays by very different rules...'

    Looks like the same old rules to me.

    You mean Microsoft never "cannibalized others' businesses by giving away free software and services to undermine competitors at the expense of growing its own."?

    Umm, okay, maybe I've got it all wrong.

  22. paulc

    Facebook has adverts????

    stunned.... I've never seen an advert on facebook... then again, I browse with a sensible browser with good add-ons...

    1. Oninoshiko

      good browers somehow related to penguins?

      hrm... I think I'm unfamiliar with that one. The ones I know about:

      Red panda (firefox)

      Red O (Opera)

      Blue Planet (MSIE)

      Compass (Safari) (really, they should have used a hat)

      Firefox could be a red fox. It's a stylized logo, so it's hard to tell. Mozilla did put up the firefox cam for a bit (which was focused on red pandas), hence the basis for that assertion.

      But I don't see a stylized pengin anywhere!

  23. JeffA

    Don't forget

    As far as I know the only company that has been floated on this thread that has been convicted of illegal monopolistic behavior in the PC world is Microsoft. IBM did sign a consent degree but it was for mainframes.

    Second the primary legal mandate a publicly held company has it to its stockholders. As long as the business practices are legal (i.e. don't follow Microsoft's example) then the company only has to answer to the stockholders - and that means making profit/increasing the value of the company.

    If that bothers you then you don't understand finance and sorry - that is your problem.

    If you don't like company x (maybe because you just love company y) then don't use their products, buy stock in the company and try to convince all the other stockholders to give up all the money they are making or keep p*ssing into the wind for all the impact you are going to make.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Do a little reading. . .

      I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but you don't understand what happened.

      Microsoft was found guilty but that verdict was overturned. That means that it was annulled and has no force at all, in any way. It is essentially expunged from the court records, for all intents and purposes. Subsequently they, like IBM, signed a consent decree.

      I understand that people like to claim that Microsoft is a "convicted monopolist" but that is based on a vacated, erroneous, and overturned court decision.

      But then, some people are more concerned with how things sound, as opposed to how well they describe reality.

      1. jocaferro

        Do a little more reading...

        And maybe you can find that MS was found guilty in the EU. A convicted monopolist, yes. Two times!

        EU is not USA where tricky legal actions overturn (not by merit) a legal court decision.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Google = one trick pony? Asay = flogging the same dead horse

    The last three columns by Mr Asay:

    "Facebook is really undervalued, may actually be worth $1 Trillion" with the premise that 750 million users are worth more than Google search despite the actual revenues of the companies suggesting just the opposite.

    "Google + is great, but it's irrelevant because FB has the user base that doesn't want to move" with the premise that better isn't better; only first matters.

    and this one "Google did search well, but has to steal others' ideas and give them away to win" that suggests that Google's non-search/ads business is nothing more than wrecking balls to disrupt actual innovators (such as Facebook) while adding nothing of value.


  25. peter collard

    Most IT companies are one trick ponies?

    Oracle - database, Microsoft - Windows, IBM - Mainframes, Compaq (who? - taken over by HP) - PCs, Lotus - 123, and Google -search, the connections are endless.

    All companies have a primary cash-cow and try to find a second - and keep trying with varying degrees of success - its been going on in IT for 40 years that I know of.

    Google have taken an interesting approach of accepting that that is the case, and building on it. Instead of trying to find an alternative revenue stream, they are encouraging people to use their existing one by removing competition to that stream. You can coexist with Google quite easily if you don't compete with their search and ads, but if you do compete they will take action.

    Trust Google to change the game - they have a history of it!

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Isn't that the whole point?

    Well Matt, as someone that used to work for Canonical, isn't that the whole point of Red Hat and Canonical's business plan?

    Give away the platform for free and sell services.

    TBH, that's a far more honest business arrangement than that engaged by most proprietary companies these days. I think it is a bit rich to castigate the likes of Facebook and Google for doing just that.

    Having a free and open platform as a delivery mechanism for services and applications is the FOSS ideal and I see no reason to fault it. Android is the FOSS lovechild and a breath of fresh air after the abortion of iOS and Windows and their wall-garden proprietary lock-in shaft-fests.

  27. Stupidscript
    Thumb Down


    Try as I might, I can find no value in this article. It's simply a whinefest against Google. There is no point. There is no news. There is no original opinion. Thanks for another anti-Google clone "journalist", Cade. Sooner or later, you just might succeed in making over El Reg in your own image.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whinefest

      You didn't like it?

      1. Stupidscript

        Like it?

        What's to like? One person's regurgitating very common complaints, without useful addition or suggestion for resolution? They're not even new complaints! It strikes me more like the author is trying to suck up to Cade, who's irrational anti-Google proclivities are well-known.

  28. Sir Bob

    Google are not evil... the moment. How many people are Google suing for patent violations? They just seem to be trying to compete with the major players without resorting to dirty tricks.

    Seems to me to be a more consumer friendly way of operating.

  29. John Sanders


    Should keep employing developer time on improving wine.

    That is the only way to erode on the windows juggernaut.

    They know it.

  30. Snarky

    Article is complete crap.

    Too bad about the lack of facts or thinking.

  31. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  32. David Taylor 1


    Are you referring to the article, or your comment?

  33. wraith404

    and apple duct tapes others products together

    Neither implication is relevant here though, because the concept of facebook was already stolen by they zuckup.

    Google rocks.

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