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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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  • by hsmith (818216) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:10PM (#39908391)
    They just stole from Excite?

    They stole email from hotmail?

    Please, on a site that bitches about patents blocking innovation we are bitching about a company seeing an idea and building their own now?
  • That depends... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:11PM (#39908403) Journal

    Are Google enforcing proprietary formats, bundling products to the detriment of their competition, and 'reinterpreting' standards such that third party options no longer interoperate properly? Although MS have been forced to improve more recently, I think that style of business was always the main problem that people had with them. Throwing another option into the marketplace without any element of coercion is fine by me, even if it is just a copy - genuine competition keeps everyone on their toes.

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

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:11PM (#39908407) Journal
    Google is not yet in Microsoft's league of indecency. Microsoft, just to remind you, is a convicted abusive monopolist. Google has not reached monopoly status anywhere significant. Some of us are keeping our eyes open, and still recognize the difference between a human (Google) and a pig (Microsoft).
  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:12PM (#39908417)

    Come on, let's not overromanticize DropBox here. They didn't invent the online storage business either. There were several companies in it during the .com boom, even Apple got into it before DropBox (and back out).

    DropBox entered into a business which is less a business dependent on client software but more on network infrastructure, something Google excels at.

    So just to ask, when was Google the first into a market? Not search. Not ads. Not mail. Not voice (they bought Grand Central).

    They're the same as they ever were. They aren't first, but sometimes they do a better job or change up the business model.

  • It's not just that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:14PM (#39908431) Journal

    I still remember GMail offering 1-2Gb when the competition had a maximum of 50mb (or thereabouts). GMail blew away the competition back in the day.

    Fast-forward to today, G+ is several years too late to the market, and Google Drive offers less space than the 25Gb SkyDrive users have had for years and hardly anything worth even mentioning functionality wise. And don't get me started on the Ts&Cs about data privacy - there's a reason you'll never see a private cloud solution from Google - they want _all_ your data or they're not interested.

    Google has a great search engine and have done some great web-apps before (gmail, google maps) but everything else just seems a bit "meh" at best at the moment.

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

    by Rob Y. (110975) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:28PM (#39908557)

    Not to mention that, in Google's case, they came to prominence through some real innovation. Microsoft borrowed an OS, scammed IBM, copied WordPerfect, strong-armed OEMs into bundling their apps with the OS, lied to the DOJ, etc. Google came up with an innovative way to monetize the internet without ruining it, and so far they haven't strayed too far afield.

    Now that Google's a public company, though, their 'Don't Be Evil' ethic is harder to square with Wall Street's poisonous demand for increasing stock prices at all costs. So sure, we ought to be wary, but I think Google's actually trying to compete as fairly as possible. And I don't think it's Dropbox they're cloning. They have this little competitor named Microsoft that would like nothing more than to neutralize their business model by giving away its own Dropbox clone - not to mention patent suits (and spending billions cloning Google's primary business), etc. Remember 'suck the air out' of your competitors business model? That was a Microsoft expression.

  • Of course they are (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:30PM (#39908583)

    Google is not yet in Microsoft's league of indecency. Microsoft, just to remind you, is a convicted abusive monopolist. Google has not reached monopoly status anywhere significant.

    Google is probably at least as dominant in several on-line fields as Microsoft ever was: search (traditional Google), video hosting (YouTube), and mapping/geographical data (Google Maps) come immediately to mind. I don't know how dominant Google Mail is as a hosted webmail provider these days, but that might be a candidate too. And then there are all kinds of smaller/niche areas where Google has been developing and/or buying up early players, though the trend does seem to be much more about consolidation and focus since the change in leadership.

    On top of that range of dominant services, there is far more potential for Google to use leverage from an existing dominant service to further its efforts artificially in another market, with the on-line advertising where it makes its real money being a prime example.

    So I think you're objectively incorrect that Google is not yet in the same league as Microsoft were. They are actually some way beyond where Microsoft had got to, it's just that no-one has called them on it in court yet. That could simply be because there is no-one left to compete credibly and no-one new brave/foolish enough to try to disrupt a market where Google is already the dominant player, which is in practice almost the definition of a monopoly.

  • Microsoft actively battled, and still does, open standards. Google pushes open standards and puts a lot of weight behind them.

    Microsoft has always (and was convicted of) using it's monopoly power to force other products and services on users. Even though it has a venerable monopoly on search and online video, Google does NO SUCH THING, in fact they actively open all of their APIs on both platforms and allow ample third party integration.

    Microsoft does little more than pay lip service to the open source movement, and has even gone on record to say it's a cancer. Google actively peruses open source, they publish a huge amount of their work under open source licenses, and they put a lot of money into sponsor ships through programs such as the Summer of Code.

    People like to give Google a lot of flack for knowing everything about you - HOWEVER Google actually goes out of their way to allow users to have total control over their data. You can log into your Google profile at any time and export all of your data and then delete the profile, leaving no trace. You can opt into having all your data anonymized, and you can opt out of all tracking on their properties, if you choose. Can you do this with Microsoft's products? I mean it is 2012 and you can't even access your hotmail via an open protocol, let alone export your data.

    Microsoft and Google have always been polar opposites. All of this recent hatred toward Google is really unjustified.. it's basically perpetuated by people who simply like to vote for the underdog.. previously Google was the underdog, now it is other companies... Google is no longer "cool" and "hip", it is "corporate" and therefore evil... well, evil is relative. Compared to Microsoft, Google is a relative saint.

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

    by Katakaa (2632969) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:36PM (#39908643)
    Google has not really done any innovation after their search engine and advertising platform. Everything else they have bought off from other startups. Google Maps and Earth come from KeyHole Inc. [wikipedia.org]. YouTube was its own startup before Google bought them, just like Android was too. Chrome is based on work done by Apple. Orkut was bought. Hell, their whole business depends on using other peoples content.

    The point being, Google has really left themselves go after the one initial project the founders did at university. Which is fine I guess, but people keep believing they are some kind of innovative company. They are not. Even Microsoft is more that than Google, as they have the largest R&D center on planet, Microsoft Research.
  • Re:Let's just say (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Swampash (1131503) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:41PM (#39908675)

    Google has not reached monopoly status anywhere significant

    Google has 67% of the US search market and in other Western countries it has up to 94% of the market. If it walks like a monopoly and quacks like a monopoly...

    "Us ancient folk who remember the 1990s" might recall a tactic that Microsoft employed at one point. It acquired the rights to a piece of technology developed elsewhere, a piece of technology that looked like it would be particularly useful in the exploding market known as "the World-Wide Web", and then gave it away for free to get people using it. It was able to do this because it had a monopoly in one industry, and it wanted to use that domaince to ensure that it would have a headstart in another.

    For a more recent example of this tactic, see Android.

  • Re:That depends... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:45PM (#39908711)

    Are Google enforcing proprietary formats

    I don't know what you mean by "enforcing", but I suspect you're asking the wrong question.

    When you host all your users' data anyway, as Google services typically do, it doesn't matter all that much what format you're using to store the data internally. What matters is whether your users can readily get access to their own data and interoperate with other products/services that use that data.

    Have you ever tried to get a document or spreadsheet out of Google Docs and into one of the other on-line office suites? How about exporting your entire Google Mail archive and importing it into Hotmail?

    bundling products to the detriment of their competition

    Well, their entire network of services just changed its privacy policy to allow them to share data everywhere, and their advertising is targeted based on the data they are collecting on all those other services, which sounds a lot like bundling services to me. I don't know about "to the detriment of their competition", because who is the serious competition to Google Ads? Even the mighty Facebook, who has a somewhat similar MO, don't run an advertising network that is widely used on other web sites.

    and 'reinterpreting' standards such that third party options no longer interoperate properly?

    Apart from the numerous extensions and proprietary features going into their browser, exactly like what Microsoft and Netscape did back in the day? And violating assorted technical standards for serving web sites in the interests of getting faster performance for their page loads? And then there's things like SPDY and WebM.

    Of course, you could reasonably argue that this is digital evolution in action and will make the Internet a better place in the long run, but then you could have made a reasonable argument that Microsoft Office and IE6 initially won their long-term dominance by being better than their competition in much the same way. At the time they won, they were great products, too. The stagnation and ultimately the legacy burden only comes later, when there's nothing left to offer credible competition and drive innovation in the market.

  • by neokushan (932374) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:45PM (#39908713)

    Companies steal - all companies do it. Apple stole from Android, Android stole from iOS, Windows stole from OSX, OSX stole from Windows - it's a never ending circle. Twitter and facebook have both stole from each other, Linux has stole from Unix and so on and so forth.
    The companies that don't steal don't innovate either, they just piss off their users because company X has a great feature and the users want it. Eventually those users leave for company X.

    If it's a good idea and you're not doing it, then you're doing it wrong.

  • by fish waffle (179067) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:49PM (#39908747)

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

    Actually it was. Well, not in technology but in presentation. While AltaVista and Yahoo were busily making their results load slower and slower, burdened with popups, animations, and ever-encroaching side, top and bottom bars full of ads, google offered a greatly simplified presentation---one well-contained banner ad at the top, and maybe a couple, well-identified sponsored results. The result was extremely usable when the industry trend was in the opposite direction.

    Unfortunately, they have since begun a slow amble down the same path as past search engines, not necessarily purely in ad density, but nevertheless packing more and more useless crap and visual bling into the search results. An essential difference, however, is that despite having bloated up the loading of results with dozens of ajax callbacks, they've invested in an extensive and truly impressive infrastructure that can keep up with the weighty result pages they end up creating. At least so far.

  • Re:Let's just say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by goombah99 (560566) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:53PM (#39908781)

    Google has not innovated. They are a fast follower with a big bank roll. Like Microsoft's office suit, their undeniably excellent search platform lets them weave new technologies in for an unbeatable combination. For example, their maps or online doc or shopping search or payment systemed were no better than what others offered, but they were easy to get to from any place in the googlesphere.

    The one area one can give a credit to them is refining the implementation of active online web pages. Their work on Ajax and things like google gears made the browser more of an app backed by a huge database.

    There is a certain irony to this move to more active web page portals however. They become unsearchable and unlinkable. Thus while the google sphere grows more integrated it becomes more of a walled garden. Worse it can't search other walled gardens like facebook.

    Google page rank and text ads was a break through but everything else has just been due to the wads of cash and monopolistic leveraging of services by "integration".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:54PM (#39908797)

    Google is the new Apple.
    Apple is the new Microsoft.
    Microsoft is the new IBM.
    IBM is the new Xerox.

    Google is definitely NOT the new apple

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

    by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @12:56PM (#39908821)

    My main use of Google is Gmail, which is the first webmail client that was worthwhile as a main interface. That seemed pretty innovative at the time.

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

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:03PM (#39908873) Journal

    Except you don't have to use Google. Whatever its dominance you can always use another search engine. It has no monopoly on search or email, and is in no position to create one. It is in no way the equivalent of Microsoft, it's dominance is not based on force.

  • Re:Short Answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:06PM (#39908893)

    I dunno. The only products which have really made my jaw drop in the last decade have come directly from Google (Earth, Street View, ...etc)

    Everything else has been pretty much evolutionary.

    Actually, this comparison to Dropbox is largely irrelevant. Google has long had the stated intent to move everyone into the "cloud" (whatever that is at any given time.) If anything, this is another piece to their plan to unseat Microsoft as the dominant operating system supplier, and you do that by eliminating the very need for Windows and Office. Logically, if you want people to use your Web-based operating system and practice ubiquitous computing, you have to permit them to store their data online as well their applications. "The Network is the Computer." Oh wait ... that was Sun. But where Sun Microsystems failed, Google is succeeding.

    This isn't so much competition to Dropbox as it is a logical and necessary step along the path they've been on for some time now. Now, whether you agree with where they're going, and whether it will ultimately be good for society is another issue entirely. But this is not Google being like Microsoft and deliberately stepping on a smaller competitor (although that may be the result), but rather Google being entirely consistent with their long-stated goals. It just took them a while to get here.

    Keep in mind that there's already plenty of competition to Dropbox, besides Google Drive you have Box, SkyDrive, Amazon's CloudDrive, and a host of other similar services, both free and paid. Google isn't even giving away the most free storage, either ... I got a 50 Gb. Box account awhile ago. It has certain limitations, but it's free and it's ten times bigger than what Google is offering.

    Ultimately, though, the key to Google's approach is not how many gigabytes their giving away, but the integration with their other services. If all you want is free online storage, there are many better options to Google Drive right now, Dropbox being one of them (functionally Dropbox is about the best of them, I'd say.)

    This is Google going head-to-head with Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon for as big a piece of the online pie as they can manage to convince us to give to them.

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

    by dzfoo (772245) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:29PM (#39909031)

    As a webmail client, yes. But webmail clients in general still lack the features we used to have with advanced native mail clients back in the late 1990s, or are just getting up to parity.

    Google's insistence of reimplementing every single speciallized software technology that we already have, as an HTTP service running on a generalized web platform, may be technically interesting and very clever, but hardly innovating.


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

    by Katakaa (2632969) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:36PM (#39909091)
    I agree completely. Gmail was not innovative. It might had worked better than Yahoo or Hotmail at the time, but even then actual email clients were way better. I personally loved to use Eudora. It's sad that they changed it to Thunderbird based code, as it's just not the same. However to this date I still use desktop email client and it's much better. Websites are fine for things like Slashdot etc, but they just cannot replace native applications.
  • Come on, it was absolutely not just the design. Google gave much more relevant search results from the beginning than Altavista ever did.
  • Re:Let's just say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boaworm (180781) <boaworm@gmail.com> on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:42PM (#39909141) Homepage Journal

    As a webmail client, yes. But webmail clients in general still lack the features we used to have with advanced native mail clients back in the late 1990s, or are just getting up to parity.

    Google's insistence of reimplementing every single speciallized software technology that we already have, as an HTTP service running on a generalized web platform, may be technically interesting and very clever, but hardly innovating.


    Sounds a bit like Apple. Many of their great successes were just improvements on existing concepts. However they were the first to produce a great product of said concept. There were loads of 32mb mp3 players out there from many vendors when apple came along with a much-more-expensive 5GB iPod that allowed you to carry around more than 8 songs. Same with the tablet, Microsoft and others envisioned it years before the iPad, however it wasnt until the iPad that it became a good product people wanted to buy.

  • Re:Let's just say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:44PM (#39909155)

    I don't think you fully understand the term innovate, or you'd not say things like "Chrome is based on work done by Apple." By your logic, the Apple II was based on work done by NASA and Hewlett Packard calculators and hence no innovation, and well, Safari was based on work done by KDE... and you could well argue that Chrome innovated on the kthml codebase in much more fundamental ways than Apple did (per-process sandboxing, javascript engine, etc).

    You either started with a conclusion you believe and added random data you heard somewhere or believe, or are spouting big claims from a position of ignorance.

    Now, you could easily make a case that Google (or arguably Apple, or Microsoft, or anyone) hasn't been able to create any software innovations on the level of the pagerank algorithm since, but then who has? My hunch is revolutionary software innovations are exceptionally rare, and because familiarity breeds contempt you're expecting more pageranks instead of truly understanding (and appreciating) it in context.

    I'm erring on the side of ignorance vs you having an agenda.

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

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:45PM (#39909165)

    Google Goggles? Google Sky? Not necessarily innovative, but certainly big additions to my app collection, and offered by no one else. Finally, you're also completely underestimating the impact that Google Maps had on map users. Before Google Maps, we had scrolling via buttons, slow zooms and no satellite imagery you could switch from. Now, Google Maps is the gold standard when it comes to map interfaces.

    I mean, do you also complain that Apple stole from Parc? That Gimp really is nothing but Paint with fancy layers? Finally, you're actually lying when you say that Orkut was bought. Or did you miss that it bears the name of its creator, a Google employee? Same with Android.

    Ohhhh.... wait a second. Brand new user whose first post is on this story. 100% incorrect information in post. Google is Evil, subtle MS is good post. I've been trolled by bonch. Damn. This crap is really getting old

  • by crunchygranola (1954152) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:48PM (#39909187)

    So just to ask, when was Google the first into a market?

    I am having a hard time coming up with many companies since the invention of the computer that were truly first to market, and successful for the long term. Xerox is the only one I am sure of, and that was due to patent protection (this is not a criticism, this is what patents were meant for). It is quite rare for a first to market company to actually prosper on it own, as far as I can see. In every space, later competitors seem to beat them out.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @01:56PM (#39909261)

    How can you take this article seriously for even one second?

    Google is going into the same business that others are already in . . . OMFG!!!!!! EVIL!!!! EVIL!!!

    So if I open a hardware strore, am I evil because others have opened hardware stores?

    What tech has not done anything like dropbox? Yahoo, MS, Apple, are all doing similar, and have been for some time.

    If MS starts Bing, that's fine, no problem at all, no slashdot article screaming about microsoft being a monopoloy or anything. But if it's Google . . . OMFG!!!!!! EVIL!!!! EVIL!!!

    Don't you people even recognize a Google smear when you see it?

  • Re:Let's just say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by loneDreamer (1502073) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @02:25PM (#39909451)
    That's not fair. They have made lots of innovations, it's just that, as innovation normally goes, not everything sticks. Remember Google Wave? Google Health? As far as I see it, they still support (internally or externally), pretty weird stuff, like self-driving cars and mining asteroids.

    They also have established products that try to cater to known markets, so what? Seem sensible to me...
  • Re:Let's just say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vintermann (400722) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @03:02PM (#39909691) Homepage

    Chrome is based on work done by Apple.

    ... which was heavily based on work by the KDE project, remember - webkit started out as a fork of Konqueror.

    And Android, while it was its own startup, was based on the Linux kernel (which is the work of a lot of people and groups, including Google). Everyone is standing on the shoulders of giants here.

    As to "innovation", I don't think dropbox's business model (desktop folders synced to the cloud!) is all that revolutionary. I would be surprised if they were the first to try it. It's a damn obvious concept once you have a cloud, which we merely hadn't until recently. The bigger question is why Google took so long in adding this functionality to Google Docs.

    But when we're talking pure in-house innovation: Google Translate was and is an unappreciated sensation. Yes, academia had tried statistical translation before, but not with anything remotely resembling the success of GT.

  • Re:Let's just say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thegreatemu (1457577) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @03:07PM (#39909719)

    I had a 6 GB Creative JukeBox mp3 player about 4 years before the ipod existed. All Apple did was make it pretty.

  • by gmuslera (3436) * on Sunday May 06, 2012 @03:23PM (#39909815) Homepage Journal

    The search engine parallel applies well for google. Google didnt just did "another search engine" back in the time, it redefined it, improved the whole concept. Wasnt just a bit more than a cosmetic improvement like Apple's iP*, was a deep functional one. Gmail? spam filtering that worked, and gigabytes of storage when most if not all offered megabytes? Yes, i call that innovation.

    In the other hand Microsoft buys (even the ms-dos was bought by them), ties to their own platform, and if someone makes an alternatives, excludes it by hardcoding (like with dr-dos), adding non standard things that break that competitor functionality or forces vendors to not sell competing software or products with it installed. The only breaking innovative thing that Microsoft did was its aggresive marketing model, taking out of market usually better alternatives.

    The day that Google services block people using anything except Chrome or Android, that day Google will start to look a bit like Microsoft. Until then the similarities will have to wait for very long.

  • Re:Let's just say (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yanom (2512780) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @04:10PM (#39910089)

    may be technically interesting and very clever, but hardly innovating.

    "Technically interesting and very clever" is the definition of innovation.

  • Re:That depends... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday May 06, 2012 @05:01PM (#39910307) Journal

    I don't see what your point is. I can export Google documents in a number of common formats. I can export Google Mail via IMAP. In fact, I have Thunderbird installed to access Google, MS-Exchange and my ISP's email account and can literally move emails back and forth, except Exchange, whose IMAP implementation pretty much sucks, and tends to bugger up a good deal more. What you're essentially doing is blaming Google because other online providers haven't got the memo and are still trying to use proprietary formats and/or protocols to lock you in.

    Let me blunt here. There has never been another online email and document storage company that has been as willing as Google to let you walk away with your data. Every other company that has offered similar things in the past has tried everything in its power to force you to remain with them. I remember back in the day using special software to grab Yahoo and Hotmail email on my Linux box, and both these guys periodically changing the underlying interface deliberately to foil utilities like fetchyahoo. Google, on the other hand, had POP3 from almost the beginning, and thus you could use any email client, and when it turned on IMAP, it made itself a pure drop-in replacement for ISP mail accounts.

    You have to be some pretty fucking bizarre person to accuse Google of trying to proprietize data formats. In fact, you have to either be a goddamned liar or a fucking moron.

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

    by ancientt (569920) * <ancientt@yahoo.com> on Sunday May 06, 2012 @08:30PM (#39911479) Homepage Journal

    If your goal is to reimplement everything as a web service, then this may seem as innovation. But there is arguably little advantage in doing the same things we did 10 years ago but in a generalized platform that serves as the lowest common denominator.

    Arguably. Challenge accepted.
    There is one overwhelming advantage. It works for non-pc devices. It works on tablets, netbooks, and most importantly, smart phones. Native clients must have an update cycle with a resulting bandwidth consumption by end user. I've got a good handful of apps on my phones and they're constantly updating. If the web version is good, I never have to update, it works on any device with a web browser and I don't need any special permissions to install it. If security is important, and it is to me, I also appreciate that my data doesn't have to be stored on my device. Plus, the online version is always the current version and doesn't have a security hole that I need to update to fix. (It may have security holes, but at least they're fixed ASAP, not on patch Tuesday.)

    I don't really want to install a PDF reader and a Doc reader and an XLS reader on my phone, and thanks to Google Docs I don't have to.

    Then there are all the things that they've just made better and/or free. I don't want to pay AT&T or MetroPCS $10/month for their navigation app, and thanks to Google I don't have to. I really liked Yahoo maps, but their interface was getting stale and now I can use Google street view to get a look at where I want to go and what I can expect to see and recognize when I get there. I used Yahoo mail (and still keep it) for years, but they were trying to charge for everything I was interested in and their space was getting constrictive, until Gmail came along. Thanks to Google entering the webmail market, Yahoo, Hotmail and others suddenly started offering reasonable amounts of space.

    Dropbox and Box.net offer a good free service, but 2GB and 5GB aren't really enough to make me comfortable, so I don't use then often. Google offers me 10GB for email storage, so that's handy if I need to store stuff online, but now they're entering the online drive market... it reminds me of when Gmail started, they are offering the same amount of space as my favorite competitor, but I expect them to expand and force others in the industry to keep up or lose customers.

    Finally, don't forget Android. Certainly it existed without Google and personally I wish they'd adopted WebOS (Google, you still could!) but it is hard to argue that anybody but Google could have made Android what it is today. The last numbers I saw for smartphones put Android on about 43% of the smartphones active. The nearest competitor was iPhone with about 28%.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan