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Key Questions for Google's New CEO Larry Page

When the world's most powerful company gets a new CEO for the first time in a decade, everyone naturally has a lot of questions.

 

  • When new Google CEO Larry Page decides to become accessible to people outside the insular Googleplex, here are some key questions to ask Mr. Page about: priorities, management philosophy, privacy, antitrust, intellectual property, and social responsibility.

 

 

Priorities:

Is Google Android a Counterfeit Operating System?

Three completely different entities, coming from three very different perspectives/motivations, are all making the same charge against Google: that Google forged their work and stole/misused their property in creating its world-leading Android mobile operating system.

Google's 'Algorithmic Hand' Proves an Unstable Market Mechanism

Google's biggest-ever reordering of its search results this past week to reward what Google believes is high quality content and punish low quality content prompted an public epiphany this week that Google has the market power to effectively pick winners and losers in the online content market.

 

 

There are two big takeaways from this public epiphany that "Google is the de facto web content market:"

 

  • First, Google's "algorithmic hand" largely has supplanted Adam Smith's "invisible hand" market mechanism to pick web content winners and losers; and
  • Second, Google has proven to be a highly unstable, unpredictable and capricious economic platform/mechanism for online content entrepreneurs and businesses to try and build a successful and sustainable business on top of.

 

FCC Out-Europes Europe on Net Neutrality -- Why?

"The Net Neutrality Debate in Europe is Over" per an excellent commentary by Ben Rooney in WSJ TechEurope.

  • Mr. Rooney chronicles the evolving public position of EU Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes from an original pro net neutrality regulation mindset, to now the opposite -- a more pro-competition mindset where "the commissoner's position now [is] that a competitive market should be able to deliver an Internet to which everyone has access."

For those who follow history, it is truly ironic, surprising, and just plain bizarre that Europe is more pro-competition on Internet policy than the U.S. FCC.

How can this be? To understand this wierdness, look at this remarkable development through the lens of industrial policy.

I posit the reason for this European policy outcome is the fact that Europe does not have a Silicon Valley lobby -- with an aggressive corporate welfare agenda seeking government special treatment, regulation of their competitors, and implicit bandwidth subsidies -- like the U.S. does. 

The stark and ironic contrast between the FCC's European-style, interventionist, regulatory approach, and Europe's more American, non-interventionist, competitive approach can only be explained by the presence of the potent lobbying force of U.S. industrial policy national champions (Silicon Valley -- Google, eBay, Amazon, IAC) in the U.S. -- and the absence of European national champions seeking net neutrality in Europe.

Privacy Will Burst Bubble 2.0

Expect privacy concerns to be the eventual catalyst that ultimately bursts the Internet investment Bubble 2.0. It is rare when there is a profound disconnect and suspension of reality between industry behavior/investment expectations and customer wants, needs and expectations, but that is precisely what is at work in Bubble 2.0.

 

  • Almost by definition, investment bubbles are unsustainable; what goes up must come down, it is only a matter of how and when -- not if.
  • Simply what fuels Bubble 2.0  is the patently false core assumption that the current unfettered, widespread, and largely clandestine data mining of individuals private information in order to target specific individuals with personalized online advertising:
    • Is aligned with real user interests;
    • Is a forthright business practice consumers are aware of and have meaningfully consented to;
    • Will not be legally constrained in the future; and
    • Will become the accepted norm -- meaning that the populace and governments will adapt to the wishes and desires of the online-ad- industry and not the other way around.
  • In a word, is online tracking, profiling and data mining a consumer-driven model? -- or a consumer-dragged model?

    This is deja vu for me. I've seen this movie before when I had a front row seat as the original dotcom Bubble 1.0 wiped away $4 trillion in market valuation in a few weeks.

    Preview Google's Apology for Collecting Kids SS#s

    See a preview below of Google's likely official public apology for collecting kids' partial Social Security #s and other private information -- without the permission of their parents.

    Per Google's Official Blog:

    "We are deeply sorry, very very sorry, and even oh-so-sorry for collecting partial social security numbers, date and place of birth on kindergartners and grade schoolers participating in the Doodle-4-Google contest.

    Calling Google's ITA Bluff

    The DOJ should call Google's bluff that it would fight the DOJ in court if the DOJ tries to block Google-ITA,  because Google will fold precisely because Google has so much to lose from going to war with the U.S. Justice Department over a $700m deal.

     

    • If DOJ decides to sue to block Google's acquisition of ITA Software, expect Google to walk away from the deal to maintain the status quo and to choose to not make their antitrust predicament massively worse by their own behavior.

     

    While Google blusters they have a strong case in court on Google-ITA, the last thing Google should want is for all their political and PR antitrust defenses to be subject to vivisection, sandblasting, and ridicule in public court for everyone to see.

     

    Mobile Content: Google's Commons vs. Apple's Market

    Mobile content producers do not have a truly competitive choice between Google's 10% fee One Pass service and Apple's 30% fee subscription service, as much as they have a value system choice between Google's Internet commons model and Apple's property-rights-driven market.

     

    • Google's One Pass offering looks eerily like its Google TV offering, where major video content owners faced the platform choice between dumb content and Content is King."
      • Given that choice, content-is-king-oriented owners broadly rejected Google's property-hostile, dumb-content system/model.
    • As mobile content providers and carriers threatened with "dumb content" and bandwidth/spectrum commodification from Google's "free" commons model assess their real long term strategic competitive and value-creation options, they will increasingly look toward, and forward to, the nascent Microsoft-Nokia alliance offering and RIM's offering for content-is-king allies and true competitive choices.

    As much as Google tries to fool Little Red Riding Hood content owners that their Grandma always had such big eyes and big teeth, most mobile content providers will spot the Google commons wolf in disguise.

     

    Two Fatal Flaws in Google's Antitrust Defense -- Part VII Google Pinocchio Series

    Google search executive Amit Singhal exposed two fatal flaws in Google's antitrust defense in an excellent and revealing interview with James Temple of the San Francisco Chronicle.

    The core of Google's antitrust defense (overall, in Google-ITA, and in the Google Book Settlement) are two foundational claims:

     

    • Everything Google does is for users and is pro-user -- so tautologically Google cannot be doing anything wrong; and
    • Everything Google does is innovative and is pro-innovation -- so tautologically Google cannot be doing anything wrong.

     

    I. Does Google only work for user interests?

    Beneath Google's saccharine claim that they only have users interests at heart, is a deep cynicism that everyone is stupid, especially antitrust authorities.

    Does Google think antitrust authorities are so stupid that:

     

    Will the FCC Lose the Future?

    Do the actions of the FCC match the FCC's words of support for the President's commitment to the "least burdensome tools to achieve regulatory ends?"

     

    • Does the FCC truly agree with the President's State of the Union that: "We can't win the future with a government of the past?"

     

    • There is much troubling evidence that the FCC mindset is firmly wedded to the regulatory past and not committed to competitively "winning the future."

     

    There are three disturbing trends at the FCC: preservationism, pessimism and silo-ism -- that all strongly indicate that the FCC's trajectory is more geared toward losing the future than winning the future.

    I. FCC Preservationism (Shackling the future with the mindset, approaches and legacy networks/regulations of the past.)

    Most of the last year the FCC has been obsessed with FCC historical preservation, i.e. strongly considering restoring the FCC to its past glory days with new Title II common carrier regulation of the Internet, but then settling on a 1934 era interpretation of the FCC's Title I authority at its most boundless.

     

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    Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths