Categories
Media Technology

Google + Twitter: good for them, bad for us

Opinions? I gots ’em! Me on Techradar:

The problem is that far too many online services haven’t a clue how they’re going to make money, and in many cases the business plan appears to be a single sentence: “Get bought by Google”.

Twitter arguably falls into that category, because it’s yet to find a way of generating significant income. That’s not a big problem if, like Twitter, the sites are doing something new, but if they’re competing against existing businesses then it’s bad news for the wider economy.

8 replies on “Google + Twitter: good for them, bad for us”

It’s interesting to compare with the situation before the dot-com boom. At that time the tech strategy appeared to be “get bought by Microsoft”, and in some ways the entire purpose of the dot-com era seems to have been to create another freak combination of factors that gave rise to the network effect that has powered Google to absolute dominance, in the same way that IBM’s strategic mis-step handed Microsoft its network-effect-generated monopoly. At some point it seems likely that another new technology will give rise to a new giant, in a seemingly random fashion, and they will in turn control the success of the tech start-up landscape through sheer weight of money.

Just seems to be the way things happen. (Generalisations from two examples always hold true, of course).

I believe it is a law of journalism that it takes three to make a trend.

Google’s an interesting one just now, because there’s growing signs of a backlash towards it – mainly from copyright owners who are pissed off that Google creams off all the ad revenue from their industry without actually producing anything.

So there’s music firms, newspaper publishers… basically the argument is that Google is running a high tech protection racket (by accident rather than design) where they have the choice of paying the Google Tax and watching their revenues plummet, or they can be cut off from Google and, er watch their revenues plummet. Essentially, the argument kinda goes, Google is The Pirate Bay.

Very, very interesting. And comparisons with Microsoft at its peak are hard to resist.

> comparisons with Microsoft at its peak are hard to resist.

Yes, but it’s also hard to resist pointing out to the many many people who are convinced that whatever company is ruling the world today is an unassailable power that Microsoft are now being soundly thumped by a firm no-one had heard of twelve years ago.

Oh, absolutely. The question is: what damage will Google do to privacy and existing businesses before somebody does a Google to it?

I’m fascinated by the PRS/YouTube spat because I can’t make up my mind what I think. Google’s argument is that the market doesn’t support PRS rates, which I’m sure is true. PRS’s argument is that other markets do support those rates, which is also true. Should PRS cut its rates to help Google find a business, or should Google act like any other company and deal with the world as it is, not the world as it’d like it to be? My gut feeling is to dislike both parties.

It’s not as if PRS rates are all that high.

I think I’m with PRS, to be honest. Google may only want their own rates reduced because they’re so special, but, even if they wanted to, how can PRS do that and leave everyone else’s rates as they are? Their other clients wouldn’t stand for it, quite rightly. What Google are effectively demanding is that PRS cut their rates across the board, giving every musician in the country a pay cut.

And, you know, there are a lot of companies around who use profits from one bit of the business to support losses elsewhere and reckon it’s worth it to make their service better overall. Youtube is better with music videos on it. Google employees go swimming in big vats of hundred-dollar notes at lunchtime, then burn them afterwards, just for a laugh, while eating sausages made of rubies. There are plenty of small commercial radio stations really struggling out there, and still paying the rates. I wonder what they think of one of the world’s most powerful companies demanding special discounts because they’re so poor?

> should Google act like any other company and deal with the world as it is, not the world as it’d like it to be?

Course they should. They have an ideal that everything be on the Web. They need to start recognising that this ideal is a business plan, not some ethical principal. If their business plan is such that some stuff ends up not being on the Web — or not on their bit of it, at least — well, big deal. I honestly don’t see much difference between this spat and the long-running argument between me and Mercedes where they refuse to sell me an R-Class for a tenner.

Blimey Jo, you sound like some kind of leftie there – it’s not like you to stand up for ordinary punters or small businesses against huge global corporations.

Since when?

And since when have lefties believed that people should deal with the world as it is rather than as they’d like it to be?

Leave a Reply