December 17th, 2010


"Microsoft declined requests for comment"; that's your problem right there...

Microsoft is fed up of being told it's dead, dying, uncool, undead or whatever other insult you have in mind. I'm pretty tired of reading stories that tell Microsoft it's dead/dying/uncool/whatever. When I read a braindead comment from "a professional financial modeling person" who says Office is toast because they only use eight or nine buttons in Excel (I think I missed the 'Monte Carlo analysis' button last time I was making a chart), I want to deliver a few well-aimed strokes with a wet fish. But when the next piece I read is rather more balanced and includes the line 'Microsoft declined requests for comment' I tend to go and write long rants about how Microsoft has to be part of even the difficult conversations...

The issue with Google and the EU shouldn't be search rank

It should be whether Google parlays its dominance in search to get deals outside search that it uses to reinforce its dominance in search.

I know tying is a key part of monopoly abuse, but I think reinforcing is more important. Take the deal where Google translates the patents for the European Patent Office; it gets paid, it gets to index the data to extract knowledge it can use in the search algorithm and it gets parallel documents it can check and then use to improve its translation algorithm (I'm just assuming the translations will be checked because even in a closed domain, unchecked machine translations of patents sound like a lawsuit waiting to happen).

It's not a crime just to be big; the issue is what you do with your size and whether you do things that unfairly keep others out of a market.

Everything Google does in all areas of its business (apart from possibly Google Apps in enterprise and government, and it may apply there too) is designed to either put Google ads in front of more searchers on more platforms or to give the Google search engine more training data in order to improve the search engine that puts ads in front of searchers.

Gmail, Picasa, translation, the Google Maps sensor probes you have to take to put Android on the phone you sell – they all get more data for Google to crunch. Their business model is transforming the information of the world into a source of targeted ads. By having a bigger index, Google gets to have a bigger training set for its engine. And how much it promotes its other services that funnel training data to the engine has to matter as a question of reinforcement; the circular nature of what Google is doing doesn't work in isolation.