Google is too big! Time to split it up in pieces.
2020-12-18 23:42 splitgoog [permalink]
I've tought and written before about splitting up Microsoft. With the recent lawsuits against Google, there's talk about splitting up Google. But how? My mind starts to wonder. If you would ask me, this is what I would say, based on what I know (which may not be the full picture, but I'm just trying to do the same to Google what I did to Microsoft before, let's see where it takes us.)
Products: online ads and banners
Revenue: price per exposure
Let's start with the cash cow. I know there's a bit if 'advertising' tied into 'selling' keywords with the search results, but I'm not considering that in this department. So specifically the online ads and banners shown on all kinds of websites, should separate into something independent. The sweet talk that proclaimed benefit from keeping it tied into the big mix is about being able to offer you more relevant ads, but we know what that means. Your e-mails and search queries go through a farm of computer centers, and you get advertisements for the stuff you just bought. (Or a brand of dental prosthetics you're orthodontist doesn't even work with...) So back to basics, one trustworthy entity you can call upon to fill a side-bar of your website to show a marketing message of some other company (that's not on your black-list). (Or perhaps that is on your white-list, but I guess you would have to agree to review newcomers soon enough or your percentage might suffer, or something...)
Products: anything Android
Open source and big companies are a complicated subject. If we stick to the basics, and perhaps compare to something different but somewhat similar, I still think an independant corporate identity could be the steward of the Android project and sell licenses to get permission to use the Android name, and get a hand on a curated build by the central authority of the project. If you really want, you can fork the project and roll it all yourself, but if you pay a reasonable price, you could get feedback if you're doing it right, get certifiers from the central authority to guarantee you the binding with your hardware devices is just right and is future-proofed for at least a version or three.
Products: Chrome, ChromeOS, (Fuchsia?)
Revenue: not for profit foundation
Department: Search engine
Products: search engine
Revenue: keywords auctioning
There's this story online of an ex-employee of a search service provider, that knew the end was near when fellow employees were using Google themselves. Search for it online, you'll find it. Google cut out the middle man and the search service market evaporated. It started with a thing called PageRank, but what it did was offer better results to anyone's search queries. If you take all the text on the web, and search for bits of text, you're off to one side of the ideal result set. If you think you could catalog all of the web in an extensive category system, you end up on the other side of the ideal result set. (And put a lot of effort in for limited returns.) You could try and build something intelligent that organically aims at this center sweet spot, but remember Goodhart's law. If you succeed, your new system will get gamed. In other words, SEO was born.
So the search engine part of Google living on its own could and should still offer to show 'paid for' search results on the keywords stakeholders select and/or organic statistics indicate as good candidates. Since there's money envolved, the engine needs to be transparent (of the crystal clear kind). In tune with the new spirit, it should be based on anonymity and respect privacy to a high degree. Even so, it could and should still actively promote societal inclusivity and combat (internationally?) criminal behaviour like enciting violence or popular misleading.
Department: Productivity Software
Products: G-Suite apps
It will need a new name though. I guess it started with GMail (which itself may be a response to Outlook Web Access) that hit a sweet spot for people in search of a low bar to clear to get started with e-mail, and also with established users that appreciate improved defaults in e-mail handling. (Yes, Outlook has a threaded conversation view, but not by default, I remember it was buried in the custom column sort group view something in Outlook 2000.) A logical extension was a calendar and the rest of the usual apps in an office suite typical attachments are made with (word-processor, spreadsheet, slide show). That it would all get delivered through the browser, now looks like an evolution that would have happened anyway. But it may be easy to take heavy-hitting modern browsers for granted these days. Anyway, their office suite has managed to catch up fast and is almost feature complete with most other office suites out there.
Department: Cloud Services
Products: anything cloud
Revenue: pay for what you use
It takes a lot of resources and effort to put up all this machinery in data centers to churn away and convert network traffic to and from storage. It takes a specific organisation to make it all work, and it's inceasingly done with a distance to what it is you're clients are actually up to. As a provider you've got a set of virtual machines running, and everything everywhere has the hell encrypted out of it. In the ideal case, you couldn't even get to know what you're clients are actually working on if you really wanted to, by design. (Though some find this too ideal.) What I noticed is that much of the cloud offerings out there like AWS and Microsoft Azure, are getting a lot of parity: for everything cloud, there's a roughly similar offering from each of the providers. In an ideal world, you can mix and match to your benifit, but since they're still tied to the data-centers they run in, we're still stuck in one of the silo's unless we pay extra to set up a dedicated link between them.
Being Google, the research that's been done ends up all over the place, or nowhere (Wave? Glass?). They start a thing called SPDY (pronounced "speedy"), and it ends up parts in HTTP 3 and part in a kind-of successor to TCP? They're building cars, and also a boat, or is it a barge?
To their credit, it's actually OK that Alphabet Inc. was created as a group with Google as a member. It opens up the endeavours thet get 'promoted' into members of Alphabet of their own for a possible future on their own, or under another corporate parent. One of these is "X", which apparently handles any undefined research going on. Anyway, things like that may be going on in any large young tech firm, so why not out of one of the newly formed ex-Google-chunks outline above.
And I'm sure I forgot some things that Google is also doing, but I think I've listed the most important things here.