Open is the new closed

Open is the new Closed

First thing in the morning, before I had my coffee even, I saw this -http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/20/google-gundotra-video/

and it deserves a post. Google is a great company but they are kidding themselves if they think they are in anyway benevolent or doing the world a favor.  They are a business and are doing what businesses do – make money.  Looks like these guys have a 90’s mindset about openness, in spite of, ironically, being the company that ushered in the web era, and it just plain wrong. I say Google is the new Microsoft and in many cases they are even worse. Of course that needs some explanation.

First up, they open source every piece of code they write. Well, almost every piece except the ones that make money for them directly. So in that sense they are in stark contrast with Microsoft. And hence they are claiming to be the good guys by default. That is bullshit and in fact dangerous. They open source stuff because they know it will not hurt them and more so gives them free marketing as the good guys.

Ten years ago client software mattered. People installed software by inserting a CD and clicking on buttons. Microsoft became evil because they had the most customers and also because they made it difficult for competitors to have a competing service. The software ecosystem has changed dramatically over the last 10 years. Google realized this a long time ago before any of us ever did.  Now the software is hosted in the server and people access it using their browsers.

Microsoft in the 90s Google
The platform was the PC

It was the desktop computer and there were other operating systems but we now use the word PC as synonymous to a Windows machine.

The platform is the web.
Had the biggest share of users on its platform. Has the biggest share of users browsing the web.
Developers had complete access to the platform. The SDK was thorough. Developers have free and complete access to the web services through an API.
Implemented/bought any and every innovation that happened in the space after its proven to drive revenue. Examples include Word processing , network based file sharing (from Novell), directory services (from Novell and others), Databases (Oracle), Outlook server, Sharepoint. Implemented/bought any and every innovation that happened in the space after its proven to drive ad revenue or get eyeballs. Examples include Android, Google voice, picasa, gmail, word processing in the cloud, Social networking (buzz, Orkut), Google products (after pricegrabber and others became successful)
Spend tons of money on research but not much to show for innovation. Spend tons of money on research but not much to show for innovation. The only thing google changed was web based mail. The rest of them are all ideas from other companies it either bought or implemented itself by getting inspired.

Like I said earlier, Google realized that data is king much earlier than any of us did. So its only goal is to move every service to the web. That way they control the data and everyone else uses the service. With this model, the software does not matter anymore. They can give it away for free and that is exactly what they did. Customers who only had Microsoft for comparison thought that a company that gives code away for free must be Gandhi or Jesus and looks like Google believes it too.  Google only did what is beneficial to them in terms of getting market share and developer share.  The software infrastructure that Google gives away for free is the equivalent of the Visual Studio/Compiler infrastructure that MS gives for free ( In fact MS I am not sure if MS gave this away free or not). They are needed to build software to empower and enrich Google.

Now I also said Google is more dangerous to the end users than Microsoft could be. Microsoft never owned user’s data. The only attempt at storing user’s data backfired big time for Microsoft. Remember passport and the outrage after the announcement? Users give Google all their data and all the services built on top of Google’s API will give it more data. Google is dangerous because there is no outrage. Data is what matters and not how they get it.  Google with its “open” and “free” mantra made Open the new closed in this redefined software landscape.

I do understand that every company implements ideas from the other but playing the good (benevolent), open card when you clearly know the truth is not right. As a side note, I don’t understand the Apple bashing. I know that it has become the thing to do nowadays but Apple is honest and direct in dealing with their customers. They brought true innovation to the phone for example (multi touch, proximity sensors, accelerometer, GPS chip in the phone). That is because they are visionaries. Google just copied these into their operating system and made it free. It made it free because it wants to crush competition not because its a good (benevolent) company. It made it free because it makes money in search and ads not hardware and software.  Now Vic obviously thinks differently and  I would be happy if he makes what ever he is smoking free for all and yes, they can sell ads on it :)

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12 Responses to Open is the new closed

  1. pm says:

    dont understand your support for apple. they are no great than microsoft and google. for once apple is the one that is doing what microsoft did. if it werent for google, apple would be running a monopoly with users stuck with their closed ended, non-flash supporting iphones and touches …. and dependent on itunes for everything a consumer needs. Google does not have any product that it can run a monopoly on (gmail vs hotmail/yahoo), andriod vs iphone os etc …. buying and acquiring companies is also business and needs vision to understand the technology one buys … and google/microsft are great at it as is apple at innovation and creativity. think about it!!!

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  3. meedabyte says:

    Ciao,
    agree with pm when says: “buying and acquiring companies is also business and needs vision to understand the technology one buys”
    Microsoft itself bought many business and not all became profitable.

    There’s no doubt that SaaS and data-lock in are a threat to personal freedom (check this R.Stallman interview on my blog http://meedabyte.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/interviewing-richard-stallman-freedom-in-the-time-of-saas/) and, in some way, I’ agree that BigG is a biggest treath respect to Microsoft: on the other hand google demonstrated way more open to competition respect to Microsoft (at least you can create a Android derived branch witgh no need to preload Google closed source services, that’s what chinamobile is doing with oPhone) and, for example respect to Iphone, seems less inclined to censorship.

  4. Couldn’t agree more. This behavior is serious Hypocrisy. We at Open-Xchange (I am the CEO) are getting the word out for two years now that cloud services need to be open an all ends, including data. In Command your data! It is about time… we are outlining how open data can work.

    We’ve learned to rely on our helpers on the Internet – but can we trust them? We are at risk of losing control over our own data.

    Already in April 2008 we and many others said that Google has to decide between good and evil when it comes to data ownership:

    Matt Asay points out on his blog that Google may be at an inflection point of having to commit to either Open Standards or becoming evil after all. Ars Technica’s Clint Ecker feels that the lock-in strategy is at full steam already, as he thinks that the PaaS move “… most blatant downside is being locked into Google’s platform.

    The Open Source idea, that helped a great deal creating the Internet and making it ubiquitous, must be carried into the cloud. It’s all about data.

    Cheers
    Rafael

  5. Pingback: Why Do We Trust Google More Than Facebook? | Find Tech News

  6. yaminou says:

    ‘They
    brought true
    innovation to the
    phone for example
    (multi touch, proximity
    sensors, accelerometer,
    GPS chip in the phone).’
    Accelerometer and gps weren’t new in smartphones.

  7. Pingback: Futur des technos : Masse critique, Open Source, monopole et récupération - CNIS mag

  8. John Adegoke says:

    Your article shows your ignorance on competition and the free markets. Early in your article you mention that Google is not as good as they claim but are like any business who are just looking to make a profit. You make it sound like making money is a bad thing. First of all making money is moral and just and righteous. Second, Google’s search engine belongs to them and not to envious people such as yourself . Google is free to enter any market they choose and to compete in that market. If Google becomes dominant in any market the enter than good for them, the consumers have spoken and the free market works. The free market is not about perfect competition (a mythical word that jealous people use to justify ant-trust) its about freedom. Microsoft was dominant but there was no barrier to entry in the operating system. There was Linux, Java, Macintosh and others. However for the customer the best available product is Windows (at least for now).

    Please stop all your statist, jealous, fear-mongering. The greatest threat to all people are not large companies but the corrupt and power hungry Governments.

  9. laurange says:

    Apple and Google are in the innovation business but Apple doesn’t play with personal data (yet ?) like Google does (Google is around every web page and it’s freaking me)

    “Microsoft was dominant but there was no barrier to entry in the operating system. There was Linux, Java, Macintosh and others. However for the customer the best available product is Windows (at least for now).”
    You know it’s not true, Microsoft compelled every PC manufacturer to put Windows only if they want a good deal and to be referenced by MS, and that since the beginning with OS2, then Linux OS.

  10. Ryan says:

    I agree with you that it’s scary that Google has control of your data. It’s not just Google but any type of service in the cloud that stores data.

    Although, have you seen this website: http://www.dataliberation.org/home . It’s a group inside of Google that works toward making it easier to move your data in and out of it’s services.

    Seriously, Apple is the new Microsoft. They are doing anything and everything they can to win. Just like M$ was doing in the 90s. Some of their underhanded crap:

    Suing the pants off anyone building an iPhone competitor

    Telling everyone that the reason Flash isn’t on the iPhone is because it sucks

    …and the list goes on and on. I just don’t feel like finding links but stuff like changing the iphone terms of service to lock out google from advertising on it. and having a journalist arrested for leaking the iphone 4.

    There is no denying that they make great products but they shit all over people just like M$ did in the 90s.

    • newclosed says:

      The ability to move data out of Google’s servers means nothing.

      I don’t agree with the Apple assertion. So far, Google is far ahead of Apple in that realm. I might have to write another article about it.

  11. Pingback: Open is the new Closed | 360 eMedia

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