Can Google Take Over The Internet

We’re piloting a new feature on Read/WriteWeb, called Point/Counterpoint.
It’s where two authors (John Milan and Alex Iskold in this case) argue two sides
of an intriguing question. We’d also like you, the reader, to contribute YOUR
thoughts in the comments section. Who do you agree with the most – John or
Alex – and why?

John Milan:Can Google
take over the internet? By many indications, they have already taken over the
access point: search.
Just like stepping on the gas in your car, Google search is making the Internet
go for most of the 1.1
billion internet users
in the world. However, unlike automotive
manufacturers, Google has found a way to get revenue – every time you look at a
billboard on the information superhighway. As such, Google’s network effect is
monetizing the world’s largest network.

Alex Iskold: Google has
certainly got a huge head start in the search/ad game and there is no challenger
on the horizon. But that does not mean Google can take over and own the entire
Internet. It is no longer the Microsoft/PC era where customers have no choice.
Today’s environment is far more agile, allowing customers to be highly
selective and receive different services from different sites. Just because
Google search is great and Gmail is good, does not mean that people will use
Froogle.

The Web is a huge creative playground and far wider than the PC world, so
Google is not going to be the best in all major market segments.

John Milan:Yes but
Google’s incredible feedback loop is being fed not so much by consumers on the
net, but by businesses pouring dollars into the world’s most efficient marketing
machine. Just to underscore how important Google’s AdWords system is to business
today, I recently paused my company’s Google AdWords program in order to perform
an experiment. As a result, our traffic immediately went down 33%. This tells me
three things:

1) Smaller businesses rely on Google to draw traffic to their
products;

2) Traditional media and traditional partner programs are under severe pressure;

3) My experiment won’t last very long!

I can only assume Google search and AdWords are as effective
for other businesses.

Alex Iskold:AdWords is
very strong, but the Retail market is difficult to break into and in that
market Google does not have a big play. The only seemingly realistic entry is
via Froogle and Checkout – where goods from many sites are aggregated onto one
page. But that can never result in the complete user experience like Amazon. So
catching up in the retail space is a difficult exercise.

John Milan: I think
Google is shooting much higher than retail margins. And unless Microsoft quickly
shows that its Live initiative is in fact alive (where is Live
in the Microsoft cloud?), businesses
will more and more eschew traditional media for Google’s online empire. Just as Windows provided Microsoft with virtually limitless
capital to create applications, Google’s search and AdWords cash engine will
create more interesting internet properties for even more users to explore.

Alex Iskold:I am not
convinced, because the basic UIs of Google have limited application. Google is
known for its ascetic approach to UI and it works well at times, but certainly
not in all cases. For example, a music or movie website needs to be content-rich and have bells and whistles. A lot of people do not like the bare look
of Google and
want more powerful, perhaps even an Apple-like, experience online. Whether or not
Google can deliver such experiences is a big question.

John Milan: I agree Google’s spartan approach is an issue. However, they have done rich
desktop apps like Google Desktop and Google Talk. There’s certainly nothing
preventing them from creating more rich apps, both on the web and on the desktop.
So can Google take over the Internet? Which is more powerful: 250 million new
PCs per year running browsers, or 1.1 billion users per day performing
searches?

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