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Google Businesses The Internet Technology

Actually, It's Google That's Eating the World 205

waderoush writes "An Xconomy column [Friday] suggests that Google is getting too big. When the company was younger, most of its acquisitions related to its core businesses of search, advertising, network infrastructure, and communications. More recently, it's been colonizing areas with a less obvious connection to search, such as travel, social networking, productivity, logistics, energy, robotics, and — with the acquisition this week of Nest Labs — home sensor networks and automation. A Google acquisition can obviously mean a big payoff for startup founders and their investors, but as the company grows by accretion it may actually be slowing innovation in Silicon Valley (since teams inside the Googleplex, with its endless fountain of AdWords revenue, can stop worrying about making money or meeting market needs). And by infiltrating so many corners of consumers' lives — and collecting personal and behavioral data as it goes — it's becoming an all-encompassing presence, and making itself ever more attractive as a target for marketers, data thieves, and government snoops. 'Any sufficiently advanced search, communications, and sensing infrastructure is indistinguishable from Big Brother,' the column argues."
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Actually, It's Google That's Eating the World

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  • subject (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ragzouken ( 943900 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:26AM (#46004745)

    How's their colony on LV-426 doing?

  • by GrumpySteen ( 1250194 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:34AM (#46004785)

    Why does every idiotic rambling monologue filled with vague predictions of doom based on the idea that Google is too successful have to be given a place on the front page?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Thanks to Google's real time internet monitoring you were able to defend your masters within minutes of this story being posted. That's impressive. Also a bit scary.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        There's a difference between defending Google (which I didn't do) and complaining about the shitty quality of what passes as "stuff that matters" on /.

        • As a consumer you make choices about how and where you spend your privacy, or you lose out on a lot of useful services by refusing them all. The internet equivalent of hiding behind the curtains at a party. Given their past record, and (most of) their corporate ideology/political activity - I believe Google is a company with a lot of good intentions which still fucks up occasionally. But when making privacy decisions, the motivations of the other party is a very large factor for me.

          Which is to say I'm ha

          • by tkprit ( 8581 )

            Shill: I'm happy with the consumer bargain I've struck with GOOGLE!

            Fine: go use your Google "services" from that bargain you've struck, whatever TF that means even, and leave the rest of the world alone. Bye.

            • When talk turns to conspiracy theories, it's generally the end of intelligent conversation. But you're in luck, since I'm perfectly willing to pick up your slack on this one.

              When I'm checking my gmail - shit, 10 years this April - and I see an AdWords related to the content, then my absolute privacy has been violated. I'm going to borrow from Timothy Leary and analyze this transaction in terms of entities in space/time and the signals being sent between them. Given that we are talking about the internet,

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by retroworks ( 652802 )
      "The End Is Near" signs didn't go away just because General Electric's purchase of NBC television in 1986 didn't accomplish the job as we feared.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why don't you break down and read the fucking article, genius? It has a good point that as google expands Big Brother will see a lot more of you.

      If you don't "care" about google's ventures into spying on the public and expansion into new sectors, fine. Shut up about it.

      • I read it. It's literally the same shit, different day. Nothing in it is new. It's all been posted here before.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      Any sufficiently advanced search, communications, and sensing infrastructure is indistinguishable from Big Brother

      Most people have gotten weary of all the NSA "revelations" that a spy agency is spying on people, so the ones trying to keep it on the front page are resorting to slightly indirect references to the same topic.

    • Because it gets Dicedot page hits, you big silly!

    • Because 15 years ago you can replace that sentence with Microsoft or MSFT, or M$FT.

      Google is the new big guy and the doom guys love the new big guy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why is this site so overrun with shills these days?

      The issue of super corporations becoming too powerful and far-reaching for anyone's good is DEFINITELY news for nerds.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:36AM (#46004795)

    Silicon Valley used to be a truly remarkable place. It was where industry and the future truly did collide head-on. And because of this, great things happened there.

    Hewlett-Packard. Fairchild Semiconductor. Xerox PARC. Intel. Sun Microsystems. Cisco Systems.

    Those were the kind of names we came to associate with very advanced technological achievement. They earned our respect with the tremendous advances they made.

    But then something happened. Silicon Valley ceased to be about a productive, beneficial future. It became about a shitty, rotten future. It became about "social media". It became about advertising. It became about a disturbing level of data collection and mining.

    The Silicon Valley of today is a mere shell of what it once was. Clad in fedora hats and rampant hipsterism, Silicon Valley of today is a sissified, degenerate place. Gone are the real scientists and engineers who advanced technology for all of mankind. Gone are their advances. Gone are the hope they brought.

    I weep for Silicon Valley. It truly does make me quite distraught to think about what has happened to it. One of the greatest intellectual creations ever to existed has been crushed by men who wear tight jeans and glasses without lenses. It has been dragged through the mud by overweight, unshaven manchildren wearing stained shirts with shitty Japanese drawings on them. It has been shit upon repeatedly by self-styled "entrepreneurs" and "engineers" whose only talent is unjustifiable self promotion.

    It is too late to save Silicon Valley. But other technologically-inclined regions should take note of what happened there. Keep away the hipsters. Keep away the bearded manchildren. Keep away the "entrepreneurs" and "engineers" who spew forth about Ruby on Rails. These people are an infection, and this infection will destroy even the most robust of technological and industrial communities. Do not let them ruin your community like they ruined Silicon Valley's.

    • No, dorks. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:52AM (#46004863)

      SV went from scientists and engineers selling a new product they invented to a bunch of dorks who are trying to get rich quick.

      When I see someone with an over inflated ego call herself a JavaScript "Engineer" (engineer?! Oh, please!) who is has this incredible "innovation" (Just Another Fucking Social Media/Pimp Subscriber's Data for Ads and Marketing software), I just shake my head and see that SV has jumped the shark,

      I AM seeing some incredible innovations in healthcare in ...wait for it ... India. American trained Indian doctors are giving superior healthcare at a fraction of the price to some of the poorest people on Earth. And the docs are STILL making a very nice living - if not more because of the processes they invented. Win/win!!

      THAT is exciting and Innovative.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Some dorks are hipsters. All hipsters are dorks. So what you and the GP are saying are both equally true.

        Those "JavaScript engineers" you talk of are almost all hipsters (and thus dorks, too). The people involved with the pathetic modern "startups" you mention are also hipsters (and thus dorks, too).

        Technical innovation will never come from people who are very concerned with how they dress, or with how they style their mustaches and beards, or with how obscure their music is, or with being "ironic" (whateve

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I am convinced that the solution to the problem is for the nerds, the people who actually know their shit and do the real tech, to stop trying to get a seat at the front in the hipster bus. We will never succeed. It isn't in our nature even to be happy if we did. Do stuff because you like doing it again. Shun the hip bullshit. We need another Popular Electronics and for O'Reilly to become 'boring' again. There is still Nuts and Volts and I think Circuit Cellar.

      • and moved into research parks like Triangle Research Park (North Carolina, NC) and Cummins Research Park (Huntsville, AL).
        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

          Probably not coincidentally, both are in far more business-friendly states than California (last in the nation).

    • It's the market which picked the winners.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's the market which picked the winners.

        Keep telling yourself that.

        All the VCs are just concentrating their focus on SV and young people.- just look at the demographic of people who get the funding and marketing help.

        And SV are following the same herd mentality - today it's social media/advertising - because everyone else is doing because they saw one dork hit the startup lottery; so they all want to play to win. It's like slot machines: one hits and everyone wants to play it.

        If it were up to the new kids in SV, the iPad and iTouch wouldn't have

      • by epine ( 68316 )

        It's the market which picked the winners.

        Along with a butterfly in Chile, or more than one butterfly, or even an untold number of butterflies.

        It's really too bad we can't put markets in charge of heavenly orbits, as that would finally solve the N-body problem. People just aren't thinking big enough.

    • I'm less worried about "hipsters" so much as mix-and-match executives. (Did that CEO do well in MegaBankConglom? Great, let's hire him for AuctionNet or PCMaker! Never mind that he has no tech experience, his ethics are both questionable and unfit for an internet company, and he was probably really brought in by MegaBank to turn them into a reality-TV producer and soften them for a future M&A all Elop-like...)

    • I don't know why this got modded up. The "hipster generation" wasn't the one that killed research.
      The "hipster generation" wasn't the one that shifted focus on short-term profit, that effected mergers between tech giants
      (only to be followed by closing down whole divisions or offshoring everything). You blame these guys for trying to find their way
      into a market that was already rotten before they entered it?

      You mention various semiconductor companies. Who was it that killed about every CPU architect
    • by spasm ( 79260 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:16PM (#46006791) Homepage

      "Silicon Valley used to be a truly remarkable place. It was where industry and the future truly did collide head-on. And because of this, great things happened there."

      Detroit used to be a truly remarkable place. It was where industry and the future truly did collide head-on. And because of this, great things happened there.

      Name me a single hotbed of innovation anywhere in the world from any historic period which was still a hotbed of innovation 50 years later.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        I daresay that the hotter the place was, the faster it burned out, like a shooting star, leaving nothing but a desiccated corpse behind, if that.
        • by spasm ( 79260 )

          Or, to put it another way, the faster the whole craziness spat out cash, the faster huge business interests and lawyers arrived to smother the whole thing in avarice and monopoly production..

      • Name me a single hotbed of innovation anywhere in the world from any historic period which was still a hotbed of innovation 50 years later.

        Seattle. Hot today in tech, hot 30 years ago in tech, hot 50-80 years ago in aerospace (Boeing).

      • Name me a single hotbed of innovation anywhere in the world from any historic period which was still a hotbed of innovation 50 years later.

        Cambridge, UK.

        Oh wait, you mean in the US? I guess not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Carly Fiorina's tenure at HP, is the most visible example of a trend that began in the mid-1990's. It was a process of the intellectual hollowing-out of silicon valley, by the "professional management" that the VC's insisted was necessary. For years, the industry press predicted that it was ripe for consolidation. Then the consolidation happened. VC's thought they were "cutting fat" - but in reality, they were throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When most acquisition strategies consisted of "buy

  • "...the eve of Microsofts november? Where people, state, country and all of human world cried out havoc! God behave, its growing too big! Destroy the cancer show no mercy... as we are just and righteous to judge justice upon thee. Again we shall mount our horses, sharpen our swords and call for the holy crusade!" Sorry its sunday, I couldn't resist. If people notice just now then I doubt it will change a single thing. But hope remains, last of the curses in pandoras box!
    • by JWW ( 79176 )

      and Apple too, to powerful with its digital music and its (gasp) Walled Garden.

      Surely they are too large. Hoist the banners, sound the trumpets!!

      • and Apple too, to powerful with its digital music and its (gasp) Walled Garden.

        Abusive definitely, their behaviour in the disgusting Book caper where they raised the price of Ebooks for none Apple users is something they continue to act unapologetic . The Control they have with Carriers forcing none Apple users again to pay for Apples products. I would argue their control of Digital music is still too high...fortunately the trend for that has dropped. As for the Walled garden thing...I am not really sure how it is related; The FSF protected Apple users from Apple!? allowing jailbreak

  • Reminder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:39AM (#46004805)

    It is rude to randomly redirect visitors to beta.slashdot.
    Even more so because beta sucks.

    Providing a hard to find opt-out, [], just upgrades the aggravation level from "rude" to "insulting and infuriating".
    The only acceptable option is, as always, opt-in.

    I guess you need reminding. a lot.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:50AM (#46004845)

      You're not alone.

      As somebody who has worked in the software industry for decades now, I find it stunning that the Slashdot beta project has not been terminated yet. It's a failure in every single sense. The users here almost all absolutely hate it. It looks worse than the existing site. It functions worse than the existing site. I think it's slower than the existing site. There is so much wasted empty space. The fonts are harder to read. The discussion is much, much more difficult to follow. It's harder to post a comment. Being forced to use it unexpectedly affects users trying to use the existing site!

      And those comparisons are to an existing Slashdot site that was Web 2.0-ified a while back, making it even shittier than the site that preceded it!

      While we should be accustomed to social media web sites shitting all over their users with bad redesigns, Slashdot is really taking it a step beyond with this beta site. I can sincerely see a Digg v4-style disaster happening again if the beta site goes live, it's just that bad. The beta will drive away the few remaining users of value.

      I sure hope that Slashdot does the right thing, and puts an end to this beta site project. Nothing good will come out of it, aside from lessons about what not to do. Everything about the beta site is just plain bad. Terminate the project, throw away the code, and move on. And do this well before the beta site ever replaces the current one!

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They plan to start a subscription service which allows the paid users to continue using the "classic" website design. Everyone else will be forced onto whatever abortion the beta design becomess.

      • by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:52PM (#46005627)

        On the whole I don't mind the current "Web 2.0" desktop version, but if beta is half as bad as the mobile version they forced us into a year or so ago, /. is toast.

        The day /. pushed out the "updated" mobile version, where all the "Filtered due to preferences" take up more of the page than actual comments, was the day my /. visits dropped by at least half. Seriously, just hide/collapse the damn thing entirely, there isn't even a way to actually view it anyway if I wanted to see what an unfiltered comment was replying to, it's a total waste of space.

        On the upside, I'm far more productive and/or social when I'm out of the house.

        • Yeah, I looked at the Slashdot mobile version yesterday. I couldn't believe how bad it was. The only question is whether the beta is worse, and that's a tough question.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:34PM (#46006035)

        The new owners think its pretty. So fuck you.

      • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:09PM (#46008677)

        If the beta goes live, I'll have to find some other site with decent comments and wide-ranging topics of general interest to nerds. Any suggestions? Because I'd rather not have to turn to Reddit.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You say this like it's a bad thing.

    Sounds to me like freedom to try really crazy/cool ideas that may not be immediately financially viable.

    • A lot of people seem to have fixed on the notion that the prospect of immediate financial gain is the primary driver of innovation. These people are fools, but they're influential fools.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Animosity towards Google is rising because Google is extending its data grabbing into other domains, and that prompts people to look for alternatives, even regarding Google's core selling point, web search.

  • by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:46AM (#46004827)

    Actually, i think Google knows that it is getting too big: the breakneck speed of acquisitions is the result of the intent, to get as big as they can before a more confining regulation sets in.

    • Or to diversify and secure - it's risky to be entirely focused on search. More diverse business, less risk.

      • by mseeger ( 40923 )

        Yep, but we come back to my argument: The biggest risk for the for Google on the search market is regulation (see EU proceedings).

      • that only works if what you diversify into is capable of picking up the slack.

        MSFT will fail, as steve ballmer spent a decade and still couldn't move MSFT past windows and office dominance. xbox is getting there, but it is still losing money on every sale of the unit. and after ten years is just starting to turn profit on the R&D for the consoles.

        Google's core business is search and advertising. The problem is targeted ads are failures. I am 100% less likely to use a targeted advertisement than a reg

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Google's core business is search and advertising. The problem is targeted ads are failures. I am 100% less likely to use a targeted advertisement than a regular one. why? because targeted ads only work for what you already have bought. Amazon has 15 years of my buying history. they have not once sent me a useful targeted ad.

          google is throwing everything they can out there and see what sticks. cars, tablets, phones, email, bundling, whatever. now look at google plus. you have to have a google plus account to

    • Except that such confining regulation might very well force them to split themselves up. So if what you write is indeed their strategy it might end up backfiring pretty badly if it turns out that the parts can't survive on their own.
    • by Necroman ( 61604 )

      Other large companies do just as many acquisitions, you just don't see them on the front page because they aren't Google. Apple bought nearly as many companies in 2013. Then you look at other large companies (like Cisco) and see how they buy up competitors fairly regularly.

  • has always been Data.

    • They also seem to have an interest in power (as in electrical), probably because of their huge power requirements. The Nest thing is kind of similar to what they were doing with home power monitoring, or at least it's in the ball park.

      • by cjjjer ( 530715 )
        I can see it now, as you browse the internet Google is targeting you ads about insulation and energy efficiency because your wife likes to keep the temp at 25c/78f because she is constantly cold.
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @10:54AM (#46004871) Journal
    Fta: Google had 67% of the US search market share in November of 2013 (Bing 18%, Yahoo 11%), and $56.5 Billion in cash.

    This is what a successful mega-corporation does when opportunities for growth within its primary revenue stream stagnate, or at least taper off.

    Good for consumers? Hardly. Competition, rather than consolidation, is generally in the better interest of the average buyer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Never understood the appeal of Google to self proclaimed geeks.

    Everyone is condemning the NSA snooping, but criticise Google, and hordes of Google sheep will try to hunt you down, down mod you into oblivion and kill you for blasphemy.
    They use Tor, proxies and VPNs, yet use Google services and Android phones. They use adblock tools yet support the biggest ad company there is. It's pure schizophrenia.

    And why? Because they are "open" ( except for all the good and important parts) and release some unimportant s

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      Ultimately Google is opt-in on their tracking. NSA is not.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not true. There are so many Google data grabbers, Google Analytics, Admob and a few more where you are not even asked and profiled even if you don't use Google services. It's naive to think you can 100% avoid Google's clutches. Sometimes you don't even notice it.

        • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

          Using the internet at all is opt-in.

          Want to try again?

          • Using the internet at all is opt-in.

            Want to try again?

            It is as opt-in as making phone calls. If you don't do either, most probably the NSA doesn't intercept your communications. Therefore according to your logic, NSA is opt-in as well.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            living is opt in.
            want to join realty?

  • If huge companies that are highly profitable don't spend and invest their money, how is that money ever going to get back into the economy? It seems to me that if giant companies like Google don't expand into other sectors of the economy then the only other alternative is for them to hoard immense piles of cash, which would keep that money from circulating in the economy, which would be a bad thing for the average person.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wrong. That's what dividends and stock buybacks are for.

      And hardware companies need money to buy resources (equipment, components, etc). Then there is litigation, hiring more people, building new HQs, etc.
      There is no need to buy every company there is. That is called diversification and is a dangerous game. It leads you astray, removes your focus, makes you less flexible, binds capital, stiffens your corporate culture, creates new front lines and competition and could turn allies into enemies.

    • What? Dividends (or share buybacks, which are functionally similar) are the obvious answer to that. Dividends inject money back into the economy far more directly than any other activity a corporation can take. Personal anecdote - when my grandmother was alive, she had a fair chunk of shares of a regional bank. When I was young, I would always look forward to the one day every three months when her dividend check arrived, because she would take the whole family out for a nice dinner, and then would take

      • Yeah, I know that's how it's suppose to work, ideally. The profit belongs to the owners.

        I have seen a couple of studies that indicate money paid as dividends is about 7% more economically productive than money retained as cash holdings or expended on investments (either capital improvements or acquisitions). I know there was a slightly informal study by Arnott & Asness with this conclusion, and there was a much more rigorous study by a guy whose name I can't remember right now (something Llosa something?) which said the same thing.

        That sounds plausible at least.

        I suppose the problem is that it's going to take a long time for Google's and Apple's and other large tech companies failures to pay fair dividends to come back and hurt them.

  • Who gets to define that? In a free market ( which no one in the world has one in reality.. some countries are closer than others, but none are true free-market ) the market should get to decide, not some dude writing a column.

  • So it isn't grey goo after all, just goo.
  • They will grow far to large and bloated, people will call from them to be broken up, and the anti-trust lawsuits will follow. It seems to be a vicious cycle that every large American tech company goes through. In 20 years time we will start seeing the articles "How Google lost its mojo" and "Google strives to get back on top". Its inevitable.
    • It seems to be a vicious cycle that every large American tech company goes through.

      IBM and Microsoft in their heydays, sure. Who else? I don't recall serious calls for the breakup of, say, Oracle or Apple, however much people may complain (often quite justifiably) about some of their business practices.

  • ... that separates large governments and mega-corporations is intent. As events continue to demonstrate, neither's intent is benign, so it's kind of a toss up as to who is the bigger, badder brother.
  • Wrong. (Score:4, Funny)

    by tpstigers ( 1075021 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:38PM (#46005501)
    Google has always been in the data business. Putting sensors into our homes fits perfectly into that business model.
    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      Yeah, next time the heating blows up they'll be able to advertise all sorts of relevant things... Like hotel ads.
  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    The problem with being big in the innovation world is how that affects the startup/venture capital market for other ventures. While anyone with a novel idea has to worry about the Googleplex paralleling their efforts, the other side of this coin is the payoff of acquisition. There is a market for your startup other than the cold, cruel world of having to run your own business for the rest of your life.

    The big Google overhang of the innovation market doesn't seem to be as bad as the feared Microsoft shadow

  • Rather than complain about Google's size, I'd love it if they would branch out into at least one more category - online auctions. They're the only company that I can think of that could seriously challenge Ebay, and Ebay needs challenging. Even from a privacy perspective, Google auctions would be superior: recall that Ebay publicly handed over all information on their users without a warrant and declared that any company which didn't do so was unpatriotic.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Whereas with Google the NSA wouldn't even have to ask.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.