Tech Check

Google's Fixed Vision: Total Tech Domination

Googlecracked $700 a share this morning, just three weeks after surpassing $600 for the first time. Sure, as Google   becomes more valuable, these $100 milestones will get easier to achieve, but you can't discount a 16% move by a company worth over $200 billion in under a month. It's significant.

Some nifty factoids: It took Google 17 days to go from $600 to $700 a share, definitely "a surprise" according to Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster. Google shares up four days straight. They've gained 726% since going public August 19, 2004. The company has added $187 billion in market cap since then. In October alone, Google's jumped 19.2%.

At the same time, Dinosaur Research's David Garrity issues a fresh $985 target on the company this morning, figuring 48 times 2008 earnings. One of his key points is the growing speculation--fever pitch now--that Google's going mobile, or seems to be, jumping into the handset business.

A few thoughts on that point: I have long written and talked about Google's move into wireless. But not in the way that so many have been saying. I would be stunned if Google released its own designed, manufactured and branded handset. It's just too far off the company's strategic path.

Every message from Google execs over the past 18 months, in connection with wireless, has been the potential of a new mobile operating system. Software, not hardware. A kind of Google platform that would run not on some exclusive Google phone, or so-called gPhone, but on a variety of handsets ultimately from a variety of service providers.

In fact, Munster relayed little back-and-forth he had with Google CEO Eric Schmidt following last week's analysts meeting. He asked Schmidt about all the rumors and speculation surrounding a gPhone and Schmidt's response to him was, "We get a good laugh out of it."

It makes no sense for Google to do anything "exclusive." And it makes all the sense in the world for the company to do something big in the wireless world. The fact is, a billion handsets will sell globally this year, compared to about 240 million PCs. Advertisers pay almost twice the rate for ads on mobile devices than they do on ads that run on the desktop. The potential revenue here is eye-popping. But only if Google gets a piece of the entire pie, running its software everywhere it can.

If Google adopts the Microsoft strategy and sells software to device makers, rather than making the devices itself, the company could become the Microsoft of a new generation, if it hasn't already. But this is what we've written and reported all along. In August, in March. Over and over again.

Cowen's Jim Friedland tells me that the mobile business for Google could be worth $1 billion for the company by 2010. A lot of money, sure, but not so much when you consider the company's overall revenue by then is projected to be north of $27 billion. Still, "What does Google want?," he asks me? "They want to open up platforms because if people use their mobile phones the same way they use their PCs, Google is likely to carry over its market dominance easily into the mobile environment."

Google at $700 gives us a reason to stand back and marvel at the company's financial performance. And Google going mobile gives us another reason to stand back and appreciate that this company has a fixed vision for its future: total technological domination.

Questions?  Comments?