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Top 10 questions for reporters/analysts to ask Google on its earnings call

Given my recent 10-page white paper which analyzes the antitrust and competitive implications of the Google-DoubleClick merger, I thought it would be helpful public service to pose some questions that reporters/analysts consider asking Google's CEO Mr. Schmidt on Google's earnings call.

  1. Does Google have a 50% "antitrust dominant" share of the search market?
  2. Is search the new Internet browser?
  3. Is search the largest Internet access gatekeeper?
  4. Is Google the new Microsoft of the Internet?
  5. Would the DoubleClick acquisition foreclose competition in the Internet advertising market?

How Google-Double-Click is exploiting antitrust law's soft underbelly

The news of Google acquiring Double-Click prompted me to spend a good part of my weekend analyzing the competitive implications of this seminal proposed acquisition for the future of the Internet.

My analysis focused on answering the following key questions of interest:

  • What is Google's real competitive endgame with DoubleClick?
  • Why is this acqusition likely to pass antitrust muster?
  • Why will Google increasingly dominate Internet search?
  • What other anticompetitive behaviors by Google position Google to dominate Internet advertising?

Summary of my conclusions:

More evidence of Google's systematic theft

The body of evidence from mainstream sources that Google systematically steals other's property continues to pile up.

    • "Sohu.com Inc. complained Sunday that the new software appeared to copy material from Sohu's Sogou search engine." "In a statement, Google acknowledged that web surfers have pointed out that some material came from "non-Google data sources." ... Google said: "We are willing to face up to our mistake and willing and offer an apology to users and the Sohu company"
    • While that may sound nice, the article also clearly referred to Google's lack of transparency on these types of issues:
      • Google "gave no indication of what it did, how much was from other sources or how it was included in the new tool."... A Google "spokeswoman said she had no additional information."
    • It is standard operating procedure for Google not to be transparent. Their secrecy is legion and does not inspire trust.

So Google supporters are probably asking "so what?"

 Bottom line: Google likes to brag about its culture of pursuing "innovation without permission."

  • Its just a fancy phrase for a business approach which tolerates and glamourizes trespass and theft to turn a buck.

Utah holds Google accountable for its "trademark Indentity theft"

It seems that more folks have Google's "number."

It seems Google is learning the lesson the hard way -- that those in glass houses should not throw stones.

Google's behavior called "fundamentally dishonest" by Democratic Congressman

National Journal's Tech Daily had an interesting article today reminding us that there is yet another dimension to Google's untrustworthy business behavior.

  • "Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., wrote a letter Friday, demanding an explanation as to why Google had replaced recent photography with images depicting the region before it was devastated by the hurricane.
  • Miller spokeswoman Luann Canipe said: "The congressman's concern is that it was fundamentally dishonest. Certainly the most basic question is, 'Did someone ask you to change the maps and if so, who was it?'" "

What is important here is this is just part of a well documented history and pattern of Google not doing the right thing and making a mockery of their double-negative corporate motto: "Don't be evil."

"Is Google too Powerful?" Yep. Read the Business Week cover story

Business Week's cover story is: "Is Google too Powerful?" is exactly the question a major publication that thinks ahead should be asking. 

Business Week has done everyone a favor in posing this cover question because it will get folks looking at Google in a new way -- as the dominant antitrust concern of the market place in the decade ahead, like Microsoft was in the 1990's, AT&T was in the late 1970s/early 1980s and IBM was in the 1950s.

Mark my words, the words "Google" and "antitrust" will be heard much more frequently together -- in the years ahead -- as Google has gone from 35% to 50% market share today in a couple of years and is on path inexorably towards 60-70% share in the next few years.

  • This means that the Google "audience" already the largest in the history of the world, at almost a half billion people, is on path towards a billion people worldwide in just the next few years.
  • That unprecedented concentration of power in the "all-content" market is enough to give anyone the willies.
  • Why the word antitrust will be used more and more concerning Google is also that Google is extremely aggressive and arrogant in buying market share (Dell, AOL, Myspace, YouoTube etc.) and is pursuing many market strategies that have the ancillary benefit of destroying many of their potential competitors business models.
    • Google can gloss over their behavior for now, but evidence of their potentially anti-competitive strategies will grow and the already huge chorus of injured parties will grow to a deafening roar in the years ahead.    

While it is clearly debatable if Google is too powerful today...

Google is the "fox in the henhouse"

The NYT lead business article on Google entering radio advertising, "The Ad Search, Offline" is a shining example of the theme in my recent blog "Google-YouTube: What's really going on."

  • Google is not negotiating with content networks as a "friendly partner" but is a clever competitor sneaking in to disintermediate content-networks from their customers.
  • Broadcasters need to realize Google is their competitor, not their ally.  

I got the "fox in the henhouse" title for this blog from the last quote in the NYT article:

Rock the Net: a bad "lip synching" performance of Moveon.org's song

The Future of Music has created a supposed new "coalition" "Rock the Net" to promote net neutrality by banding together music groups who have been suckered into fearing that the Internet will somehow be taken away from them -- without net neutrality legislation.

This is not about policy or legislation.  

This is a cheap publicity stunt.

"Rock the net" is basically a bad "lip synching performance" by music groups singing liberal Moveon.org's pre-canned song.

  • No musician at their Rock the Net press conference showed any understanding whatsoever of the net neutrality issue or how musicians might be threatened without NN legislation. 
  • They just "lip synched" Moveon.org's lyrics. 

"Lip synching" is the perfect metaphor for the supposed net neutrality grass roots "movement" overall.

Google-Youtube -- what's really going on

Google-YouTube like to spin that the billion-dollar copyright law suit from Viacom and the new online venture by NBC-Newscorp is just about "negotiating."

  • Don't believe it.
  • This is not simply a negotiation over "price;" it's all about video competition and the viability of video business models going forward. 
  • Google-YouTube are the video networks biggest competitive long term threat, not their natural "business partner."

What's really going on is Google-YouTube is trying to disintermediate all video content and network companies.

  • Google believes it has a more efficient monetization mechanism for advertising than any of the current or traditional models.
    • So Google is making a play to effectively insert itself in between content players and their existing customers so that Google controls the monetization of the customer relationship -- not the content company.
    • In other words, Google believes its Youtube "distribution network" as Google CEO Schmidt calls it, is superior to the content networks of NBC, CBS, Viacom, ABC-Disney, Fox-NewsCorp among others.
  • What this really is about -- is competition, not negotiation.
    •  Google wants to steal the video content players audience from them and in the online space they have largely succeeded to date.
    • According to Nielsen/NetRatings for February, YouTube had 42m audience, Google Video had 21m audience and the next three largest, AOL video, MySpace video, and MSN video, each only  have 12-13m audience a piece.

Make no mistake. Google already has built the largest "audience" of any "network" in the world -- ever.

Viacom Sues Google for "clearly illegal" business model -- its a growing pattern

The WSJ is reporting that Viacom has sued Google for $1b in damages for stealing its copyrighted content.

  • "YouTube is a significant, for-profit organization that has built a lucrative business out of exploiting the devotion of fans to others' creative works in order to enrich itself and its corporate parent Google," Viacom said in a press release. "Their business model, which is based on building traffic and selling advertising off of unlicensed content, is clearly illegal and is in obvious conflict with copyright laws."

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths