CNBC’s Goldman: Google at a crossroads

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Google has had enormous difficulty diversifying and while it continues to control such a dynamic and lucrative segment of tech, it faces stiffening competition in the heart and soul of its balance sheet from Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and a host of upstarts,” Jim Goldman writes for CNBC.

“Make no mistake: Google still has plenty going for it,” Goldman writes. “On any given day, 63 percent of the world’s searches are done on Google. That’s a staggering stat. But that’s where Google’s story still begins and ends, even after so many attempts at generating new revenue from other streams.”

“I liken Google to a kind of trust-fund baby for tech: The company got mega bucks at a very early age, and ever since it has been trying to come up with creative ways to spend it, and far-flung business ventures to make even more,” Goldman writes. “Remember that Google spent over $1 billion on its YouTube acquisition, but even after all these years, the deal still isn’t generating any material profits.”

“Google is indeed at a crossroads,” Goldman writes. “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.”

Goldman writes, “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.”

There’s much more in the full article – recommended – here.

26 Comments

  1. That is well said, Google has chosen to abandon the team player for your competition. This will cost Google much more than what they thought they would profit on their new path.

    I believe that Steve jobs will work Google off as many apps as they can. Steve is pushed by no one! This is his time and everyone will have to follow, team up or BE CRUSHED!

    What happened with Microsoft and the PC market will not happen again!

  2. To Jersey_trader… I couldn’t agree more! All the major analysts are starting to see this sfift from not just the desktop to the mobile device, but more importantly a shift to doing searches and viewing advertisements inside an App…. An Apple App! The next couple of years will be most interesting to watch, and if your an investor a good percentage of your tech portfolio has to be in AAPL. Why just watch? Might as well fatten up the 401K, right?

  3. You know S. Jobs doesn’t like to give up revenue streams either. I just wonder if Google believed they would be able to profitably partner with Apple, as the partner providing ad and search within the Apps on Apple’s mobile platform. I can’t think of any other reason for Google to take Apple so head on in this nascent market.

    This situation between Apple and Google certainly gives life to MicroShaft in the mobile niche, which will make the next couple of years pretty interesting to watch.

  4. …and then there’s the old rumor about Safari and Bing. I wonder what the impact on Google’s search engine business from desktops and laptops would be if Bing got the treatment Google originally did…and assume Quatro will handle Apple’s mobiles. Chipping away a little bit at a time….

  5. Goldman is a self advertising machine, it’s no wonder he’d liken Google’s approach to R&D;as ‘throw-it-against-the-wall…’ philosophy à la Nokia and appreciate it as innovation.
    As someone else has already pointed out, Google = evil, ’nuff said.
    Everything else Mr. Goldman has spouted off is just sugarcoating it as a talented but hapless company as opposed to a lying, double-crossing, greedy entity whose one hit wonder is to goad people into selling their private info to the advertisers. It’s a company whose innovative think tank is but a page from the manual of the MS copy machine dismissing both as followers for inspiration for the lack of any honest visionaries at the helm.

    MDN MW: married.. they ought to be.
    There, fixed the typo.

  6. @ jaundiced,

    WTF do their toys have to do with anything? If Steve had 2 jets would Apple increase market share? If Steve sold his jet would Apple lose market share?

    You know the status of their toys is irrelevant.

  7. Google is losing its way. They had it made in partnering with Apple. The number of eyeballs on the iPhone and other mobile devices would have been substantial.

    Instead, they decided to go up against Apple in the phone space, against their own partners with a Nexus. I never understood the Android purchase. Now placing Android on mobile and static devices and coming out with its own OS with Chrome, seemed to be an attempt to ensure that they were guaranteed a constant stream without relying on Apple or anyone else.

    What they did not envision is what what would happen if people were given a choice. You can give away Google/Android phones and claim that you are outselling a device that many covet or you can keep playing this game and eventually get burned.

    In the phone space, the party is over when Apple creates a CDMA phone in the USA. People will WANT an iPhone and dump Android in a New York Minute. On the desktop Microsoft is already getting ready to give away Office on the web. Pissing everyone off as they are doing is going to hurt not only Google, but the shareholders and everyone else in the environment.

    It is really time for G to get back to what it does best. These ventures into cutting up other people’s territories in an half-assed manner (ie Beta this, Beta that), is becoming old. Microsoft tried this and failed.

  8. Look how many businesses and partners Jobs have fostered along and how they treated him in return, and how many ideas they ripped off and then looked down on Apple. They all want to be the next Microsoft. No wonder they’ve all lost their souls.

  9. Apple designs its own hardware, Google doesn’t. To many companies go the rebadging route, Google, Microsoft and Dell come to mind. And 9 out of 10 times Apple has already dusted the original in the open market. A looser company plus a looser product never have equaled a winner. Google has a good search engine and thats it, they should stick to what they do best and thats not hardware.

  10. The more I look at Google, the more I see it as a company with one idea, and no idea where to go next. The created a great search engine and attached ads to searches. That’s the beginning and end.

    Yes, I use Google Apps (but I have other options), and Maps, I flirt with Google Voice (well, GrandCentral), use YouTube sort of. But it remains a search engine for me. Their expansion into Apple-competition areas are….ok. Nothing to write home about.

    Now, cloud services. This is promising, but…where to go? Apple has a plan (I can feel it in my loins). But Google? I am reminded of an old Ian Fleming line about the CIA in the 50s. So much money and no idea how to spend it. That’s how I think about Google.

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