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Is Google the New Microsoft? 492

Posted by samzenpus
from the Imitation-is-the-best-form-of-flattery dept.
ericjones12398 writes "Google's come up with its solution for Dropbox: If you can't buy 'em, copy 'em. The search engine and online advertising giant replaced its popular Google Docs service with Google Drive, a cloud computing storage service designed to directly compete with start up Dropbox. This raises the question, has Google become the new Microsoft? Us ancient folk who remember the 1990s and the Microsoft anti-trust trial can certainly notice some parallels. A big, dare we say monolithic, company doesn't bother innovating on its own. It just waits for other companies to innovate, makes some changes for legally significant distinctions and enters into competition with the innovator. Sound familiar?
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Is Google the New Microsoft?

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  • Patexia (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Internal Modem (1281796) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:10PM (#39908389)
    I don't know, but Patexia seems to be a front for someone according to the bias in all of their articles over the past 2 years as seen by a Google search.
  • Re:Singing the Blues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:22PM (#39908499)

    I remember when Microsoft was the refreshing, freedom-loving alternative to Big Blue.

    Yes, that was from 1975 all the way until 1976 [wikipedia.org].

  • by Qwavel (733416) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:23PM (#39908513)

    Yes, even their Search Engine wasn't really that novel.

    But Google does still innovate. Actually, looking at web tech (Google main area of expertise) I think people's biggest complaint is that Google innovates too much.

    Everybody knows about Chrome, but that is just the beginning - Google has been pushing at every boundary of the web.

    Of all of them, I think Dart sound very interesting. I'm impressed that they managed to come up with a new language that has all the modern language features that developers are after, while still maintaining a form of compatibility with Javascript (and therefore all browsers).

    And, since this article is about comparing Google to MS, let me point out that this couldn't be further from MS's attempt to change the web. ActiveX was proprietary and non-Web in every way. Dart is both compatible with the existing web (through it's ability to generate js) and is open and unencumbered.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:24PM (#39908523)

    It's the same story people have been writing for years.

    Google as the Next Microsoft [slashdot.org].

    If you in fact Google Slashdot with the words Microsoft and Google, you'll find hundreds of results because people have been saying it for years.

  • by slasho81 (455509) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:42PM (#39908689)

    Shamelessly stolen from four years ago [slashdot.org]:

    Google now has a full-blown case of the Microsoft Business Disaster Model. This model goes like this:

    • Get a highly profitable monopoly.
    • Watch gigantic sums of cash accumulate.
    • Panic at the thought of actually distributing that cash to shareholders, as the law requires.
    • Start throwing money at any additional product line you can think of, believing that because you got that first profitable monopoly (largely by luck), you are Really Smart, and therefore you can make money at anything.
    • Watch with relief as stockholders don't notice how much of their money you are shoveling into the fire, because your core monopoly is still making huge profits.
    • Spend years telling yourself that having divisions that lose gigantic sums of money for years means you are now a "long term" strategist.
    • Drift slowly into decay like the Soviet Union, still powerful, still important, but internally depressing, wasteful, and decrepit.

    The most profitable company this year (2008) was Exxon-Mobil. A company that has to get its hands dirty and actually move a physical product had higher profits than Microsoft, a company that just thinks up bits that it then distributes, largely electronically. Imagine the profits if Microsoft were to sell off all its huge money losers, retain only enough employees to maintain Windows and Office, and pay out all the profits as dividends. It would be the most incredible stock the market had ever seen.

  • by gl4ss (559668) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:17PM (#39908971) Homepage Journal

    look, altavista started with a design just about like google.
    the reason why a lot of people started using google was simply that it was like altavista was before turning into a shitty portal. copying their design from 3 or so years back wasn't that innovative, it was google offering a "classic" design.

    the full circle is that googles main page is starting to turn into pretty heavy stuff now..

  • Re:Let's just say (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:52PM (#39909225)

    GMail came out with 1GB storage at time when Hotmail and Yahoo offered 5-10 MB. In reaction everyone and their cousins started offering larger storage.

    GMail had interesting presentation of mail over the web. Their interface was _way_ more responsive than competition at that time. They were the first to offer keyboard navigation. So if you have a habit of sticking with the keyboard, their interface was very efficient to use.

    They were the first vendors to offer a threaded-view of mails on the web (I said on the web, not comparing to native clients). Perhaps they still are the only ones, I am not sure. Labels is a useful idea as it allows you to classify the same conversation under multiple heads. They came up with the idea of searching emails instead of sorting them for easy retrieval later.

    I say thing were pretty innovative with GMail. Not sure how else you mean by innovation. One can argue about more prominent examples of innovation on the history of mankind, but GMail was innovation too.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:57PM (#39909271)

    monopoly operating system?

    Oh? Well then no it's completely different.

  • Re:Let's just say (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2012 @02:01PM (#39909295)

    Apple is rarely innovative and it is debatable (i.e. personal preference) on whether they build a "better" product. What they do have is a great marketing department that has convinced people their products were first and are best. They also create an us vs them mentality that spawns insane product loyalty.

    While Apple has one of the greatest consumer marketing depts, Microsoft was on of the best business development efforts. BD's job is to make agreements to grab more market share while not completely eroding profits. The fact that they even reached an allegation monopoly status is like a giant kudos to BD folks.

  • by loneDreamer (1502073) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @02:31PM (#39909501)
    Not to mention many other innovative papers studied in academia. Sure, "the little box were you type a query" doesn't seem special, but you are discounting Map-Reduce (from which Hadoop was copied), Google File System (HFS copies it), PageRank, the push to use redundancy on of-the-shelf cheap disks and other components, etc etc etc

    A bunch of their techniques are never seen by the end user, but they have GREAT innovations on the back end.
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @02:55PM (#39909661) Homepage

    Microsoft has historically been very aggressive towards their competitors. They've frequently crushed competitors. Their users, who are their customers and pay them money, they treat reasonably well.

    Google, on the other hand, focuses their aggression against their users.. Google's tries to collect as much info about its users as it can, which is a lot. Then they resell that data to advertisers. This has them in trouble with the EU privacy authorities and most of the US state attorneys general.

    Then there's the drug dealing. Google had to admit guilt to multiple felonies related to advertising drugs. [googlemonitor.com] They had to pay a $500,000,000 penalty to avoid felony prosecution.

    And no, it wasn't just "Canadian pharmacies". The FBI became involved because some drug dealer they were chasing ran an online pharmacy racket on the side and advertised with Google. The FBI then ran a sting operation against Google [wsj.com], running more and more outrageous ads for illegal drugs. Google execs met with the FBI's con man, who was pretending to be an agent for a Mexican drug lord. They extended him credit for AdWords ads. The U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island says Larry Page knew all about this. [wsj.com]

    Microsoft has had antitrust problems, but nothing like that.

  • Re:That depends... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @04:33PM (#39910183)

    It's not lock-in, it's lock-out.

    It may well be. I've never claimed otherwise, despite some respondents apparently reading things into my posts that were not there.

    But it doesn't matter. The question was whether Google use locked-in proprietary formats in the way Microsoft used to. My point is that it doesn't matter, because as long as there are barriers to easy competition, and regardless of whose fault those barriers may be, Google get the benefits in terms of retention-by-default without need Microsoft-esque tricks to bolster their position.

  • Re:That depends... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @04:47PM (#39910233)

    Do you actually expect Google to make their system export in every possible format to every online suite on the internet?

    No, of course not. Google are under no legal obligation to provide any sort of export facility at all, as far as I'm aware.

    However, I cannot help but notice the irony here: I am challenging a claim -- that Google is somehow less monopolistic than Microsoft were because Google aren't relying on proprietary file formats in the same way -- and I am being criticised in part on the basis that Google can export the data in the very same proprietary format that was apparently grounds for attacking Microsoft originally!

    What other Webmail service provides an easy "transfer my stuff to Gmail" feature? IMAP and POP3 are the standard ways to transfer email, and Gmail offering those is better than the other services already!

    IMAP and POP are protocols that a lot of people using Google Mail have never even heard of, because one of the major advantages of signing up for hosted webmail is that you don't have to configure this sort of stuff.

    It's great that Google Mail lets you download your stuff to archive it or whatever, really it is. But if you (meaning "an average user", not you personally) can't easily transfer your data to a rival service, using those protocols or otherwise, then there is a barrier to competition.

    Please understand that it doesn't matter whose fault this is, and that I'm not blaming Google as if they're somehow letting the side down. I'm simply arguing that such a barrier exists, and is the modern cloud-based equivalent of everyone's software using their own proprietary file formats in the old days.

    That in turn makes it difficult to move between competing services, and that gives an advantage to whoever has the lion's share of the market at any given time, and that means they have a mechanism they can lever to their advantage in other markets, and fundamentally that is what this whole discussion is about. It's not an opinion or a criticism, it's simply the way things are, just as being a monopoly is not illegal, but it does activate a different set of rules to prevent the abuse of that dominant position.

  • Re:Let's just say (Score:5, Interesting)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @07:54PM (#39911285)

    The GP relied on the premise that just because something was bought from someone means that no innovation has ever taken place. Forget the big ticket names.

    Android was bought? Sure, but just look how far the system has come. At the time it was acquired it was a borderline worthless platform. By combining it with other Google products it showed real innovation. A phone contact list that automatically syncs with your online email account, true multitasking, a useful and functional widget system, all that is innovation regardless of who actually came up with the original system.

    How about evolving standards? SPDY? A Google innovation. A browser that is capable of doing Javascript fast enough to start becoming really useful, a Google innovation. So what if Chrome is based on work done by Apple (which is based on webkit), I don't see Safari browser as being the first to incorporate per tab threading, sand-boxing, or PDF rendering.

    I also like it how the poster is missing Google's single biggest move in the last 10 years. Moving the entire productivity suite online. They didn't buy that of anyone, yet now we have an online productivity suite which is great from a collaboration / central data store point of view. Not to mention starting a webmail service which was lightyears ahead of the competition when it launched.

    How about developer tools? Google Analytics anyone? It has changed the way webmasters design web pages with a far bigger focus on user interaction.

    Yeah Google is such a copycat.

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