Google at a Crossroads
But that speaks to a more insidious issue for Google. Think of it as Google's own version of the law of large numbers. The bigger Google gets, the more interested the Feds are. Google is in the crosshairs of various departments and agencies from Justice, to the Federal Trade Commission, to the Federal Communications Commission, to the European Union.
Microsoft has made fines and settlements a part of its cost-of-doing-business and has decades of experience in these matters. Google is still a newbie as it tries to navigate federal and international competitive statutes. Microsoft's vast experience on this front alone gives it the upper hand against Google, which will most certainly face more legal examination as the days pass by.
As the headline proclaims, Google is indeed at a crossroads. The company gets major kudos for investing heavily in research in development; having lived in and covered the Silicon Valley for the past 20 years, I happen to love Google's throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks approach to innovation.
But Google also has to tread carefully and keep its swagger under control. It's bitter break-up with Apple is a classic example of Google's heavy hand and what might have been behind-the-scenes duplicity (oh, no way, we're going to compete with you. Oh wait, we're competing with you!) That cost Google what could have been a great corporate partnership and cost CEO Eric Schmidt his friendship with Steve Jobs.
It used to be that Google had the world at its fingertips even as the world still kept Google at its fingertips. Today and from here forward, Google's survival will depend on what the company does next, and where the money will come from. Google has no trouble generating headlines; new revenue streams is a decidedly different story.
Watch "Inside the Mind of Google", hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Friday May 14 at 10pm ET on CNBC.
- Read Jim's 'Tech Check' Blog
- Google By The Numbers
- Quiz: Search for the Answers
- Slideshow: Tour the Googleplex