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BusinessWeek, 05 Sept. 2005 Google's Grand Ambition

BusinessWeek, 05 Sept. 2005 Google's Grand Ambition

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Published by Arik Hesseldahl

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Published by: Arik Hesseldahl on Jul 28, 2009
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05/11/2014

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A
MORTGAGE
FRAUD BOOM
<p.3z>
I GOOGLE'S GRAND AMBITIONS
(P
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The
McGraw-Hill
Companies
I
SEPTEMBER
5,2005
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How
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BYKERRYCAPELLAND(P.76)
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THE INTERNET
GOOGLE'SGRAND AMBITIONS
Its
lips
are
sealed, but
its
moves
rattleeveryone
 from
 Microsoft
to
eBay
I
N
YEARS
PAST, MICROSOFT CORP.could freeze competitors and sendinvestors scurrying just
by
utteringthe name of a market it fancied. Today, Google Inc. is the 800-poundoctopus that is filling potentialrivals with dread and envy.In typical Google fashion, the companychose an unusual
moment—the
sleepydoldrums of
mid-August—to
shake upthe tech world with a
 flurry
 of announcements. First, Google confirmed that it hadquietly acquired mobile-phone softwarestartup Android Inc. Then came the surprising news that it would add $4 billionto its cash war chest with a secondarystock offering. And then on Aug. 24, thesearch giant announced it was gettinginto the instant messaging and Internettelephony businesses. No wonder techwatchers from Silicon
Valley
to
Bangaloreare all wondering the same thing: Whatthe heck
is
Google up to?No point asking the Mountain View(Calif.) company. Google, as usual, isabout
as
talkative as
a
telephonepole.Butin dissecting thecompany's spate ofrecent hires, investments, and acquisitions you can catchtantalizing glimpsesof where the searchgiant could be headed. Talk about ambition. Google appearsto be contemplatingforays into everything from Wi-Fi Internet access andmobile devices to
DEEPER POCKETS
Page and Brin planon having $4 billionmore to shop with
operating systems and
e-commerce.
Google faces serious challenges ofcourse,not least because
it is
playing catchup in some of these
 fields.
 But if the company's outsize ambitions
come
to
fruition,Google would suddenly be on a collisioncourse with some pretty heavy hitters. Thecompany
is
already challenging Microsoftand Yahoo! Inc. Now it seems to be getting ready
to
stomp on the turf of such giants as eBay, Motorola, Nokia,
SBC
Communications, and Verizon. And if you're atech startup working similar technologiesas the savvy folks in the Googleplex, youhave two basic choices: Plan to be acquired—or get run over. "There is a newfear and caution about how Google willuse
its
war chest," says Chris Shipley, producer of the DEMO Conference, wherestartups strut their
stuff.
If the search behemoth goes aheadwith its myriad initiatives, it will beGoogle
vs.
Everyone. Here's a glimpse ofwhere Google may
be
headed:
GOOGLE VS. VERIZON
Playing
a
role
in
how consumers connect to the Net is animportant step foronline giants. Ithelps deepen thelink between Websurfers and Internetcompanies whileproviding a windowfor these outfits toshowcase productsand services. Googleclearly covets such a
role,
but it hasshown no interest inmimicking the access businesses ofother tech titans-piling up millionsof subscribers likeAmerica Online orfollowing Yahoo'slead of partnering with telecom giants.Google may be showing its hand inthis arena with a couple of little-noticedbusiness moves. In April, Google teamedup with wireless startup Feeva Inc. tosponsor a Wi-Fi hot zone in San Francisco (page 39) in which Google appears asthe startpage.Google says this is all partof its mission to make access to information more readily available, but it won'tcomment on other Wi-Fi moves. Someanalysts, though, believe it would makeperfect sense for Google to bankroll Wi-Fiaccesspoints,not only allowing
Google
toget more users but also to target ads better
locally—a
huge growth area. "Googlewants there to be more search moments,"says
Esme
Vos, editor of the MuniWire-
less
Weblog and a consultant
to
cities deploying Wi-Fi solutions. "This wouldmake a lot of sense."Meanwhile, in July, Google invested inCurrent Communications Group LLC, acompany that offers broadband accessover power lines. The company has beenrolling out its service to a few markets inthe U.S., including Cincinnati. Verizon
36
I
BusinessWeek
I
September 5, 2005

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