Hey Keith Woolcock, Google Is The Internet

Posted Feb 4, 2012

Keith Woolcock wrote a piece on Time today about how Google being blocked out of Facebook’s walled garden and inability to index Twitter’s tweets is an indication of Google being in danger of “being shut out of the changing Internet.” John Battelle responded to that article by saying that the Facebook’s upcoming IPO and Twitter blocking their tweets should not question whether Google is being threatened, but we should define what kind of commons should be created to keep the Internet “open.”

After Google announced their fourth quarter, their shares dropped 9% in after-hours trading. Google earned $2.7 billion during the last three months of 2011. Their revenue rose 25% to $10.58 billion, which is the first time the company’s revenue surpassed $10 billion in a quarter in the company’s 13 years history. This is a big deal.

Google.com receives between about 1 and 1.7 billion hits per day. Google.com’s subsidiary YouTube has surpassed 2 billion video views itself. Facebook sees about 483 million daily users. Those numbers are big, but are not that big when compared to the Google juggernaut. In plain English, Google is the Internet.

Woolcock has it wrong too. Google is not entirely closed off from Facebook either. Google subsidiary YouTube.com receives close to 15% of their traffic due to referrals from Facebook.com. Just think about how many YouTube videos are posted on Facebook per day. This translates into more ad revenue for Google.

One major reason why Twitter decided not to renew their search deal with Google is because they now have their own sophisticated search engine at “search.twitter.com.” Twitter has a major interest in serving ads alongside tweets on their search engine. Back in 2009 when Twitter was trying to gain traction, having a deal with Google was a big deal. Supposedly Twitter also had a problem with Google when they launched Google Search Plus Your World, which favored Google+ results over Twitter and Facebook.

Woolcock does make a great point that Amazon.com’s shares are up 370% and Apple’s shares are up 438% since the past 5 years while Google is up only 17%. What this clearly means is that Google’s growth has been hockey-stick after going public, while Amazon and Apple’s growth has been gradual. Instead of going back 5 years, think about the last 10 years. Back then Google was still a private company and Apple was trading at between $7 and $13. Does this mean that Google is being shut out of the changing Internet? Not at all.

Woolcock said that “Google?s business model, and nearly all its revenue and profits, depend on the Internet remaining open.” The reason why Facebook grew is because it helps people stay in touch with their friends and allows people to host billions of photos for free. Twitter’s walled garden does not mean anything. Twitter hit 200 million registered accounts recently, but how many of them are active? How many accounts are just bots that spit out the RSS feeds for publishing companies and blogs. How many of them are spam accounts? Is Twitter’s data really that valuable to Google? I don’t think so.

“Amazon has taken Google?s freely available Android operating system and adapted it for its new Fire tablet. Amazon gets to free ride upon Google?s software, in other words, while the search giant gets nothing back in return. No data, and no advertising revenue,” said Woolcock. Hey Woolcock, did you forget that Google makes 30% on every sale of an app made through the Android Market? There is revenue on Amazon.com’s use of the Android Market.

Woolcock decided to start talking about Apple in the article too:
“The Apple universe is like a cable TV network that owns content or aggregates it. It?s phones, computers and tablets are like the set-top boxes your cable company gives you. The content you consume might be a film that you download, a song, a book, an application or something you buy on line, like a pair of shoes. And none of the data Apple?s customers generate is available to Google.”

Google is the default search engine on iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Google can easily track the number of visits they receive from the iOS devices. Also let’s not forget that many developers monetize their Apple Apps by integrating AdMob into them. Who owns the mobile ads placed on Apple Apps that use AdMob? Google does. Closed off? Don’t think so.

Woodcock is definitely a gifted journalist and I still consider myself an amateur, but I think that he misses a lot of points and his article is very debatable. That is something I am trying to learn? how to pen articles that lack substantial backing in order to start a debate. There are a lot of passionate Google fans out there and Woodcock definitely got their attention by using a controversial title such as “Is Google In Danger of Being Shut Out of the Changing Internet?”