Google has not innovated in a decade. But, they've been in many fights. Against relatively tiny, unarmed combatants. Now when they have a real fight on their hand, they run to the government.
Twice this year, Google's been vocal about something competitors have done that it feels is unfair. The first time was this happened was in the wake of Google's accusations that Bing was copying its search results. Then, just last week, Google whined that Microsoft, Oracle and Apple were ganging up on it to kill Android through the use of "bogus" patents, which those companies apparently overpaid for, in Google's esteemed wisdom. John Gruber fired back that if the patents were so overpriced, why did Google itself bid $3 billion for them, at one point?
What's far more interesting is that just how Google just apparently copies and expands into whatever it wants, something that's not directly connected with patents. For example, there's Brian Hall's post, where he lists Google's sins:
- Yelp gets popular? Copy their info, shove Yelp to the bottom of the page and put Google Places and reviews at the top.
- Groupon won't sell? Spend billions from other businesses to destroy them.
- Twitter and Facebook innovate on search? Take their content, whine when they try and stop you then spend billions to prevent their growth and hopefully destroy them.
- Apple working on a touchscreen smartphone? Spend billions from another business and copy everything you can, down to swipes and apps.
- Need a smartphone operating system with Java. Take Java and use it for your own ends.
- Need a location mapping technology and Skyhook won't sell? Spend billions from your monopoly profits and strongarm your partners and drive Skyhook out of business.
- Buy up the big travel search sites.
- Claim you are open source but share nothing related to what your business claims to be about -- search, and nothing related to how you make your money -- advertising
- Claim you are open and standards based but control who gets access to your smartphone operating system
- Like all rich monopolists, they spend millions hiring high priced lobbyists and public relations teams inside the Beltway -- for their direct benefit
That feeds into Gruber's second post on this week's patent actions, which seems to reassert all these copying facts:
Google seems to feel entitled to copy whatever it wants. Android copies the UI from the iPhone. Places copied data from Yelp. Google+ copies from Facebook. Their coupon thing is a clone of Groupon. And yet it's Google that acts as though it has been offended when these competitors fight back.
"Increasingly, Google is trying to do everything. And they have the arrogance to think that they can. And it's pissing people off," MG Siegler wrote today.
Facebook and Google have long been at odds with one another. Now, with Google+ giving Google a significant presence in Facebook's social game for the first time, tensions are higher than they've ever been. While the two sides have been fighting publicly, behind the scenes, it's worse. This is true even though many of Facebook's employees are former Google employees. Facebook's alliances with Microsoft can't help matters either.
For a long time, Yahoo was Google's most direct rival. You might think that after Google quickly dominated them in search, there would be peace now. Nope. Yahoo also has no love for Google still to this day. When Microsoft was attempting to buy Yahoo a few years ago, Google was seen as one potential savior. And they almost were, until the DoJ began looking into a potential Yahoo/Google search partnership and Google had to back out. Instead, Yahoo was forced to tie up with Microsoft.
These days, you'll hear Yahoos complain behind the scenes that Google often just takes ideas they implemented first but never caught on because Google is the dominant player in the space.
Amazon and Google are also increasingly at odds with one another. Amazon is about to enter the tablet space in a big way later this year -- and they'll be doing so with their own flavor of Android. They also have a competing Android app store. And while this may seem like Amazon entering Google's space, remember that Google went after Amazon first. While Google hasn't really be able to compete in the cloud storage and services businesses so far, it hasn't been for a lack of trying.
Out of any of the larger entities in the space these days, is seems like Twitter and Google should have interests that align the most. Like Facebook, many of Twitter's employees are ex-Google. And while a search deal a couple years ago seemed to pull the two close together, that deal has since expired, and there is no sign it's going to ever be renewed.
Google has tried to buy Twitter a few times, and Twitter has backed away each time, most recently leaving billions on the table. And while both sides say fairly complimentary things about each other in public still, behind the scenes, again, it's not good. Many Twitter employees flat out don't trust Google. And Google+ has exacerbated that situation.
Speaking of failed Google acquisitions, after Google tried and failed to buy Yelp and Groupon, they moved forward on products that competed directly with them. In the process, Yelp has felt Google was actively screwing them in search results. Bad blood galore now.
Gruber tells us that the Android UI was copied from Apple. Hall says that the idea of a touchscreen smartphone was copied by the iPhone. Bottom line: Samsung can make its Android phones look like iPhones, but that doesn't mean they act like them.
One popular meme is that all of Google's design changes have been borrowed from Bing. This all happens in an alternative universe where Ask.com apparently never existed. And even some of the Ask innovations came from others.
If one of two damning emails are allowed to be used as evidence, it sure looks like Google could be in some serious trouble. Those emails appear to extend the idea of Google's arrogance. As Android chief Andy Rubin wrote in a 2005 email, "If Sun doesn't want to work with us, we have two options: 1) Abandon our work and adopt MSFT CLR VM and C# language - or - 2) Do Java anyway and defend our decision, perhaps making enemies along the way."
So Google's damned for "copying" and then damned for not copying -- and the not copying argument is bizarrely used to say they copy?