Let me take a stab at explaining Google's grand strategy.
My friends at ZDNet call this the Google PC, or a network computer.
Well, sort of. You may, instead of buying Microsoft Office, suscribe to Google's GMail and have a rudimentary office system with a gigabyte or two of storage.
But to say Google is going after Microsoft, the way we said Microsoft was going after IBM, is really to damn with faint praise.
If that were all there were to it, why would Google be planning on building out WiFi, or build out an optical network?
Google isn't aiming at Microsoft, or at IBM. It's aiming at the entire computing-telecommunications complex, building out what I'll call the Google TeleComputing Environment.
The idea is to take advantage of not only the Internet's ability to disintermediate clients, but its ability to disintermediate the phone network at the same time, and to do this in an entirely open source way.
What do I mean? Here are the ingredients:
- Universally-accessible applications, based on search.
- Universally-acessible networks, at broadband speeds.
- Universally-competitive systems, worldwide.
Google is flattening the world. More on what this means after the flip.
- You don't need a PC for access, or for applications. Bring what you have.
- You don't need a telecommunications gatekeeper. Bits are everywhere.
- Wherever you are it's all the same.
(The picture is a detail from the 1947 film "It's a Wonderful Life.")
The telecomm aspects of Google's strategy might not make sense in Korea, where you can already get multi-megabit bandwidth on demand, wired or wireless. But in the U.S., where telephone and cable companies dominate access, with help from the government, the Google strategy gives you a way to jump over all of it.
In India and Africa, where mobile networks are ubiquitous but online services of quality are scarce, you will be able to jump into Google's servers to get the services you need. Those are being built-out, and note how quick Google was to open up GMail to mobile phones.
By the same token, Chinese users may be crippled by the second-rate service they get from censored search sites, including Google.CN. But those with a Clue will be able to jump over the Great Firewall and access those applications, while those left behind will fall behind in knowledge. Eventually China either joins the world, fully and fairly, or it goes back to cow dung communism, while economic rivals such as India and Singapore rise.
It's a grand design, based on principles Scott McNealy (among others) have been talking about for years, maybe decades.
But they've just been talking about it.
Google is out to do it.
And that may change the world in ways even Bill Gates could not have imagined.
So long as Google maintains its own credibility.