Saturday, May 27, 2006


Open Email to Bob Cringley about Google

Hi Bob,

We've corresponded in the past about our respective blogs.

Just had a thought that I wanted to share with you: What if the real reason that Google is vying against the ISPs on network neutrality is that it wants to leverage those super-powered hardware boxes it has been dropping into its dark fiber for the past few years as accelerators for paying customers? Similar to what Akamai is already doing...

For instance, if a media company wants its news, downloadable songs, advertisements faster than their competitor's, they would pay Google to cache that content on their hardware crates, so that rather than have the content served from the company's server, Google does its geo-detection, finds the nearest crate and serves the requested content from the crate, thereby bringing that content to the user faster. Allowing the ISPs to charge those same media companies for faster content delivery would cannabalize a business that Google plans to get into, but just hasn't yet, and won't until a net neutrality bill is signed into law.

Another thought for the Google crates: How hard would it be for Google to turn its dark fiber on, open up an ISP where broadband is served up at cutthroat rates (like, $5/mo), plus every user gets a stripped-down PC (say, with some flash memory, a little RAM and a nice flat screen) capable of running Ubuntu & Firefox (and that's it), through which users access Google-built productivity applications (like Writely, Gmail, Maps, Calendar, etc) online, rather than having them loaded locally on their PC? I know the bubble days of giving away free PC's to get users onto an expensive ISP dial up plan crashed and burned, but this strategy (if I'm on the right track) seems a bit more viable. The PC would really only work w/ Google's online internet operating system and applications stack, insuring that people who buy into the program won't simply drop Google as an ISP and switch to a local broadband provider like Comcast or AT&T. Google now has a steady revenue stream from a reasonably captive user base (basically, it would put AOL out of business by taking all of their users) for its applications, advertisements, portal content etc... but, could also allow users to get to the "regular" internet (not follow the "walled garden" approach that AOL tried).


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