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Who is David and who is Goliath ?

I am reading this article, Ballmer still searching for an answer to Google. The article explains that Microsoft “may be the only company in a position to provide ‘any real competition’ for Google in the online search business.“, that it may invest some significant amount of money in a “five-year task” :

We need to do some work to fundamentally reinvent the search business model… You don’t brute-force your way into a market. You only make great strides when you redefine the category for the user.

Well, it is not simple to understand who Goliath is in this case (because, of course, we would try to support David here). So, who is David? I personally think that promoting a real alternative to Google can only be great for all of us, the users. I would have certainly preferred that an alternative to Google would have been provided by a non-for-profit organization. I want, though, highlight two points:

  1. the idea of reinventing the search business model is, IMHO, great. Let’s stop copying what others do… Let’s put the face on!
  2. providing alternatives to an hegemonic system is too important.

Google strikes back

So, here it is, the long awaited “Google Browser” (called Google Chrome, but the site should go online only tomorrow) has been unveiled in an unconventional announcement in the guise of a comic book.

For the moment, I hold any new comment. I read my old post (from last August). Let’s see if this move will actually make the battleground more free ( by removing the artificial obstacles that an evolution of the Browser technology found because of the war between IE and Firefox) or it will simply be a vehicle by which Google will transform its “presents” (GMail, GCalendar, G<something else>…) into “de-facto” standards.

The initial announcements explicitly thanks what Firefox and Apple Safari did and, more important, commits Google to open-source the innovations that are certainly present in the new Browser.

I suggest people to start reading this post from John Paczkowski, especially what he says at the end:

with its view of the Web as a Web of applications and its multi-process/multi-application design, Chrome almost seems more an operating system than a browser, doesn’t it? Funny, isn’t it. Google’s long been rumored to have been developing a browser and an OS. Who would have known they’d be the same thing ?.

Without having seen and tried yet the Google Chrome browser, I tend to agree with John on the fact that Google is probably shooting towards something that is more an RIA platform than a simple browser.

I would only ask a question. Given the “open source” nature of Firefox, why Google deployed another open-source initiative instead of joining the forces around Firefox ?

Let see when we will better understand how Google Browser is done.

From Internet to Oligarchy

The recent announcement of Microsoft’s intention to buy Yahoo! is, in my opinion, marking the end of the short, initial period during which the Internet was populated by different subjects. During these initial 15 years, the proliferation of different subjects, all fighting against everybody else to gain market share, was allowing independent producers to break in and to find niches not yet occupied by the principal subjects (which were too much busy in fighting….).

The Yahoo! acquisition will, at the end, create a de-facto oligarchy. The two actors (Microsoft and Google) will split their dominance on the world of the Internet thus, de-facto, preventing independent forms of content production to flourish.

The fault of this lays, in my opinion, on the weakness with which the Business and Political worlds accepted the enormous power of Google.

  • It is very sad to see that, instead of facilitating more democracy and competition (and, thus innovation!) by forcing a split of Google or by empowering a non-profit organization for managing the “Internet Search” business, the lack of governance of this fundamental aspect of the modern world (the Internet) allowed the creation of this oligarchy.
  • It is sad to see that, from now on, opposing to Google would imply choosing Microsoft!
  • It will be interesting to understand which effects this new situation will have on IT departments and on the “providers of IT departments” (editors, consulting firms, outsourcing…)
    Will a more safe dominant position in the Internet area (with all the cash flow that could happen from that) change the way in which Microsoft will approach and will be approached by IT shops?

Googlenomiks (or Googlesaurus)

So, I had been late on commenting on other attempts of the big octopus, but I cannot refrain from commenting on this.

Google officially announced a Wikipedia killer: it is called KNOL. Under the seducing title of Encouraging people to contribute knowledge, Google is, actually, directly attacking Wikipedia.

I have never been a big fans of Wikipedia, also. 
I just think Wikipedia is useful and is something that is important in the panorama of the Web; but I still think that I prefer to know who is providing me the information. As I often say, I try to teach my children not to get the free press, because behind the fact that they do not spend money for getting it, some hidden messages can be delivered. And I am using this same argument in my posts against Googlesaurus…

Now, KNOL actually proposes something that I consider interesting and, in principle, more robust and accountable than Wikipedia:

The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors… We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content…

…We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.

Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it. Knols will also include references and links to additional information.

A way in which people will sign what they write; a system where there will be competing opinions. And where people can comment on something that has a signature. I like this!


A knol on a particular topic is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read. The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions. Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not bless any content…

…At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads…

…Once testing is completed, participation in knols will be completely open, and we cannot expect that all of them will be of high quality. Our job in Search Quality will be to rank the knols appropriately when they appear in Google search results. We are quite experienced with ranking web pages, and we feel confident that we will be up to the challenge.

Ok. Once again, behind the seducing sentences of “We are very excited by the potential to substantially increase the dissemination of knowledge” or “Google will not ask for any exclusivity on any of this content and will make that content available to any other search engine“, the Googlesaurus shows its aspect and its intention: Wikipedia is out of its control and is, potentially, an incredible source of revenue! It cannot be left there as it is, like an unexploited goldmine.

And, once again, a Big Brother (Google Search Quality) will rank for you what you better read as your primary source of information.

Sorry. The idea is good, but it will turn to be another arrow that will make Google more powerful and, all of us, less free.

I think that some parts of the Internet will need some control. Leaving control to Google is not good. Leaving control to other may not also.

Let’s say NO TO GOOGLE and to its enormous ego! Internet search is too important to be left in the hands of a private company.

P.S.See the Read/WriteWeb article for more information

The Ministry of Truth

Thanks to TonyBlog, and his article How difficult is to be the fastest growing internet company in the world, I discovered a long but very interesting video on Google’s dominance.
I share the video here also for the ones who want to see it from here.

I was hit by several things:

  1. the “Ministry of Truth” thing that happens at the end of the video
  2. the reference to the media monopoly situation that is happening in some parts of Europe (Italy, for instance) and that is scaring lot of people
  3. the fact that the VPs that are interviewed do not show concern about the power they have in their hands.
    They consider that power just from a technology point of view and they came out with statements that look like the following ones (I do not quote exact words…)

    • if we were able to do what we did, everybody can do also.
    • Why would we do something evil?
    • the possibility of beinbg evil is inside every job…

No, I think that we need to come to some action before it is too late. Internet Search is too important to be left in the hands of a private monopoly: Internet Search should be property of no one. The temptation would be too big.

Speculations on Google Browser (GBrowser) ?

I have read this morning an article speculating on the arrival of a new Browser on the market, a Browser labelled “Google” (or Gbrowser).
The few readers of my blog can immediately imagine that this is not the kind of news that I would have liked to hear. I personally do not like this invasion of things from Google which, under the cover of being “free for everybody”, tie us to a new monopoly (see my previous post “Internet Search should be property of no one“).
I state this even if I have no problem admitting that most of the technologies that Google, in its immense altruism, offers us are very cool and really innovative and really pushing for significant progress in the Web space.
The problem is not around how cool the presents from Google are… it is about the concept of “present” itself !

Anyway, in this specific case (GBrowser… yes, you can see that the domain name has already been registered by Google!) I think that, if the speculation actually reflects a reality, it may become something very significant, and perhaps not completely bad.

If really Google will put on the market its own branded Browser, I think that :

  1. Google will finally admit that some “footprint” is required in order to properly run today’s internet applications (this will have consequences on AJAX as we see it today, I think)
  2. Google will automatically transform what they published as “contribution” into a de-facto standard (because it will be working naturally with the new browser….)
  3. Google will create a platform onto which developers will build RIA applications

Yes, in the last bullet I wrote “RIA applications“. Because, if the Browser from Google will become true, it will obviously promote the use of Google Gears and of all the other G* things that invaded the web. A couple of months ago, I wrote my first reaction to Google Gears:

[with Google Gears] Google starts to install something else than the browser in order to keep the browser relevant”

The advent of Apollo AIR (paved by Flex) and the approaching of Vista (via Silverlight) may create serious alternatives for running applications delivered over the internet (see here and here and here for a summary of my opinion on this topic); the default mean to access to applications delivered over the net, will no more be the browser, at least when some significant experience and richness of functionality will be required.

Will Google redefine what we know today as “the browser”? Will Google remove the impedance that somehow forced the two main actors in this space (IE and Firefox) to comply (at least formally) to standards?

Again, if Google will indeed go into the Browser business, all what it gave away so far could be interpreted as a way to create “addiction, so that people will find it normal that Google will also revolutionize the browser space. After all, Google is not perceived as the “bad boys in the block“, so it is likely that this move will find only few opposers.

Despite these considerations, though, I initially wrote that this may not be a bad outcome for the web. My readers know that I consider that the browser needs a big evolution in order to support the new challenges and the execution of applications delivered over the internet. So, this move may represent a shock that will benefit the whole community.

I wished Firefox and XUL could have become this shock!!!! Perhaps they will anyway (why wouldn’t the GBrowser be based on Firefox after all?)

Of course, this is all speculation at this moment….

Internet Search should be property of no one

For the people that start fearing about Google, I suggest reading the following article: Google goes click.
Among the others, I liked this quote:

Further proof, if any were needed, that Google
isn’t a technology company that makes money from ads, it’s an
advertising company that uses technology to lure eyeballs

I start to believe that Internet Search is too delicate a feature, is so important that it cannot be left in the hands of a monopoly.
Internet Search should be property of no one or real competition and alternatives should be promoted.

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