Google’s influence is felt throughout the world and the government of France is concerned that Google is responsible for slowly destroying French culture. In response to the threat from Google in fact there is a new French search engine.
Then there is the threat to eBay as Google hones its Froogle search engine, payment and e-commerce products. Newspapers have a love/hate relationship with Google News but mostly hate as they see Google news replacing their sites as primary news home pages.
It would seem, everywhere you look, Google is wreaking havoc with existing business models and causing boardroom chaos.
The newest chaos is being felt in the offices of cell phone operators around the world. You see, Google decided today they will make WiFi free in their home town of Mountain View, California.
The implications of this news are profound and one can already imagine Google doing the same thing throughout the world. Of course Google says they don’t have plans to bring free WiFi to the world but Google has been helping to provide WiFi in nearby San Francisco as well.
Still one can’t help but wonder if this isn’t the start of a trend we will see more and more of. With all the debate over net neutrality and telephone companies threatening to charge Google to provide high-speed services, it would seem a no-brainer for Google to start to roll out Wi-Fi to other parts of the nation as soon as they can.
It would seem incumbent telephone companies and cable companies will be forced to charge Google if the search giant plans on launching a competitive broadcasting service using Internet television and to that end we can expect to see more and more of these sorts of announcements. I expect to see a city here and a city there until the nation and eventually the most important parts of the world are covered. Of course if a friendly broadband policy exists in a country, Google probably doesn’t have the incentive to roll out WiFi there.
But your mind has to start to think about what happens to the wireless carriers if we start to live in a world where WiFi is free. Why would we use cell phones for example? Why would we use EVDO and other so called high speed wireless technologies?
In fact, how would a wireless carrier make money in a world where WiFi is free? The answer is unclear. If VoIP hasn’t done enough to alter the business model of landline carriers, now the wireless industry must be very concerned about their future.
The ad-supported model Google employs allows them to do things others just don’t want to do. For example, Google’s Gmail raised the storage ante to 2.5 gigabytes, a manifold increase over their competitors. In fact the monsters of technology, Yahoo! and Microsoft had to reluctantly increase their storage policies and cost because of Google.
And as long as Google and others are leading the way and as long as the price of WiFi continues to plummet, IP communications will flourish. In fact out of the primordial soup of broadband innovation we can expect living breathing IP communications success stories and business models that will evolve more rapidly than most species on the Galapagos islands. And this sort of environment which was a dream for Darwin is absolute chaos for telephone companies who until recently were in no hurry to change.