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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Where Is Google Going With All This?

This is what I've have been thinking Google is working towards:

An Uncle Dave commentary:

Last week, Google released a 3D graphics program called SketchUp. As someone who has played around with computer graphics, this program is the real thing, not only because it’s free, but because it’s ridiculously easy to use. With the simple tutorials you get when you first run it, even your grandmother could recreate the house in the picture in just a few minutes. I wish more commercial 3D programs were this easy to use. And did I mention it’s free!

It’s Windows-only at present and it has limitations (a full featured version can be had for $500), but what you can do with the free version is amazing. One interesting feature is that after, say, recreating your house, you can plop it down in its place on Google Earth.

What I can’t figure out is why? What is Google up to releasing a program like this? Yes, it has the Google Earth tie-in, and Google also has Picasa for organizing your photos, but where is this leading? Computer graphics isn’t exactly in the Google search domain. Is this a shot over the bow that no program or area is off limits? When they come out with the long talked about Google Office, will it include a Photoshop-like program for 2D work? Will there eventually be a Quicken-like program for personal finances? A Quickbooks-like program for small businesses? And so on? Is the goal to eventually be a one-stop shop for at home users to get free, easy to use programs that whet the appitite of the commercial use people to buy pro-level products? In other words, one hell of a clever marketing scheme that just happens to provide something really useful instead of just a page of ads (or more appropriately in Google’s case, links to websites)?

Now, here’s a way-out idea I had about another of Google’s possible directions based on an assortment of things I’ve read over the last year.

A few months ago, Robert Cringely wrote about Google and it’s data centers in a trailer. Right now, there are limits on what TV stations, cable companies and the telcos can do regarding transmitting TV channels over their various pipes and/or airwaves. Same goes for phone calls (regular or VOIP), internet traffic and so on. A lot has to do with who owns what and who can share what at what price.

There’s a lot of dark fiber out there. Suppose Google buys it up and connects every community in the country with those data center trucks as hubs. Then, it sets up each city with wireless, gigabit internet. (Yes, they just announced they aren’t wiring Silicon Valley, but there may be specific issues for not participating.) Now, write contracts with each cable channel. What has Google got? End-to-end data, video, VOIP that it controls. It also has the ability to store content on its vast server farms so video on demand becomes almost trival. Hey, Paramount. Store one HD copy of M:I:III on our servers after it’s theatrical run, then any channel can pay a fee to play it. Or skip the channels. Either way, viewers can call it up (or any show) any time, but they need to use our special browser/player (works on everything from your TV to computer to phone) which keeps it protected from pirates.

Going farther, perhaps the TV channels morph into being just producers of shows that are provided to Google just like the movie studios would.

Anyway, notice what wasn’t mentioned. No telcos, no cable companies, no ISPs anywhere. Google owns it end to end. Cost to users? Have corporations who will be more than happy to get better, consistant, coast-to-coast (eventually world-wide?) service than they are now pay for what they use, plus ad revenue from cable channels. Home users get it all for free. Well, maybe they pay a nominal fee to see MI:I:III (or any movie) whenever they want.

What do you think about that? We’d espcially like to hear from CEOs of telcos, cable companies and ISPs. Bill Gates, too.

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