Googling the G-people

Robert Clark
25 Sep 2007

Google might have become a verb meaning to find obscure information, but the G-people are notoriously reluctant to share any information about themselves.

In the absence of confirmation from the search company about its plans to add to growing Pacific fiber capacity, the blogosphere has kept itself occupied with asking the hard questions.

NY Times' Saul Hansell asks and answers the "why‾" question. Google may be the ultimate do-it-yourself company, he thinks. "From the start, Google's sense of its own engineering superiority, combined with a tightwad sensibility, led it to build its own servers."

Google likes to DIY because they think it can do it better and cheaper. But when it comes to capacity, the company is worried about the clear ambitions of AT&T and Verizon to carry "non-neutral" content that would favor their partners over Google.

The fact that it is looking to build a cable with partners suggests it is not planning to be an active supplier in the bandwidth market - although that is cold comfort to other capacity players. TeleGeography says lit bandwidth across the Pacific will spike in the next year from 3.3 Tbps to 7.2 Tbps.

Contemplating the firm's efforts to get broadband wireless spectrum, Fortune writer wonders what will happen if Google, which trades at 47 times earnings, begins to look even a little like AT&T, which trades at 21 times.

But IT pundit Nicholas Carr says Google is pursuing a vertical integration strategy that "would make Henry Ford dance with delight."

"It builds its own server computers as well as designing some of their components, writes its own operating systems, builds and operates its own data centers, owns much of the fiber-optic cabling through which its data travels, codes and delivers a suite of applications ranging from search engines to business productivity programs, sells and delivers ads over various media, operates its own checkout and payments service, writes much of its internal operating software, generates some of the electricity for its buildings, and operates the bus system that brings its employees to and from work. And now we hear of its apparent plans not only to operate a wireless network and make a smartphone but to lay a communication cable across the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

"When it comes to the demise of vertical integration and the triumph of specialization, is Google the exception that proves the rule or the exception that proves the rule wrong‾"

In other words, is Google a freak or what‾

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