Monday, December 26, 2005

The rise of the Google empire continues.

In the past week or so Google announced it had bought 5% of AOL. This is another in a somewhat long stream of acquisitions and investments (Outride, Applied Semantics, Blogger, Picasa,, Keyhole, Tivo, Monster to name a few).

Google's acquisitions are not just limited to companies, however. It has also been steadily building its human resources over the past couple of years. Vint Cerf, Eric Schmidt (Novell), Kai-Fu Lee (Microsoft), Sean Egan (GAIM), Ann Mather (PIXAR), Omid Kordestani (Netscape) to name a few.

So what does all this mean? Some say Google's revenue stream is too dependent on what is (was?) its core business - online advertising. The recent change in strategy (most of it due, I would say, to the recently acquired members of its management team) is an attempt to widen its base and build a better corporate Google.

They have had some public relations disasters too though - Google Print is one. But they are slowly moving towards getting it right. The Google Foundation has been setup which focuses on global poverty, energy and the environment. Expect some "big" announcements in the not too distant future which will help their PR machine overcome some of the negative press.

Getting back to business, Google still dominates the search engine. There is competition, but none that has the branding power of Google. You don't do a search on the internet, you "google" for it. Online advertising was a natural progression to gain revenue from the search engine, and this revenue stream has been continually enhanced with new programmes e.g. Google Adsense.

But now I feel Google wants to be known not as a search engine, but a technology leader - it is already an internet behemoth, but the push is now on to converge into a larger space of the technology market. Google Maps, Google Mail, Google Video, Google Transit, all point towards this move into a wider converged world, and there is more to come!

In the months and years ahead, expect Google to evolve into a bigger technology behemoth, as long as it does not lose focus.....or go bust (:wink:) I think they have the right management team in place, and expect more key appointments in the near future. It will be interesting to see in 5 years time how much of a Googly world we end up with.

Feliz Navidad and best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

WSIS, ICANN, triple x, the end of 64k in Fiji, and horses for courses

I have been a bit slow in my blogging endeavour.....other issues have side-tracked me.

Well, WSIS Tunisia 2005 is over and done with. Amid the stabbing, beating and stalking and surveillance of journalists (maybe the next WSIS-like event should be in Baghdad or Kandahar?), a lot of hot air blew through and in the end everyone claims a win on the Internet Governance issue. Net result is ICANN remains, which is how it should be.

The internet is too dynamic to have a bureacracy running it. Having said that I do look forward to the day that the US Government relinquishes all control of ICANN and ICANN runs as an “international organisation outside US jurisdiction”. This is something I would like changed, and soon. True the US has done significant work in the development of the internet, but the internet is for all the world, therefore no one country should retain executive control. I do see progress however and having had intimate conversations with the current ICANN Chairman it all seems to be heading in the right direction.

While we are on the subject of ICANN, I would really like to see .xxx TLD setup and all adult content moved off to it. This will work wonders for system management, yes the system will not be perfect, but a heck of a lot better than what it is now. Those who scream protest need to see the light of day – the sites already exist anyway and having an appropriate TLD to deal with it makes sense.

Closer to home, Fiji is apparently going through a broadband revolution, or should I say “evolution”? With 3 players now in the ISP space, the second-largest operator embarked on a new marketing campaign this past week – “the end of 64k access”. Their entry-level access speed is now 128k, and all other packages have moved up in speed - retaining the same pricing structure as before, but at higher speeds. Interesting move, and let's see how the incumbent reacts. There has been significant development in the internet space over the last 6 months and lets hope this continues and the industry is opened up even further.

Before I sign off on this post, Makybe Diva – go you good thing! First horse to win 3 consecutive Melbourne Cups (and with the same jockey hanging on to her reins) – this year over the last 400-odd metres she was absolute poetry in motion. What a way to enter retirement! (In case you are wondering why I am talking about horses, amongst other things I have a passion for horses and dogs, and no one said I should only write about ICT!)