Google's Statement on the Hostile Takeover

It’s very fascinating to me how differently peoples’ minds react after reading the exact same thing. It all depends on many things, of course, including your state of mind when you read it as well as your history with the subject matter. One of those seems a little more subjective than the other, but they both participate in opinion-forming. 

When I read the Google blog post about Microsoft’s hostile bid for Yahoo (see http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/yahoo-and-future-of-internet.html), I thought it was very well written and that the message was very well said. I also related very much to what they were trying to say.

An hour later, after more reading, I found that several people were taking the standpoint that Google was (effectively) a pot calling a kettle black. Google, they claimed, IS a monopoly, so what gives them the right to go after Microsoft for trying to buy Yahoo?My opinion is that Google didn’t obtain its market share the same way Microsoft obtained theirs. And that’s really a big difference. I use Google search, for example, because I regularly try the others and they just don’t get me what I want. If they did, I’d switch. I use Google maps because MSN Maps doesn’t work on Safari (or perhaps even Firefox, at least as well as they do in IE). I’ve seen the MSN maps in action, and I’d like to use them, but I just can’t. I am physically unable to because Microsoft chooses to make them unavailable to me. This goes back to my point about how Microsoft obtained their market share.

In short, I believe the point is this: Google wants everyone to use their products. Microsoft wants everyone to use their products as long as you use THEIR operating system, THEIR browser, etc. I believe consumers have the right to more freedom than that. And that’s one of the smaller reasons why I don’t use Microsoft products anymore.

3 thoughts on “Google's Statement on the Hostile Takeover”

  1. Interesting point, Russ.

    “Microsoft wants everyone to use their products as long as you use THEIR operating system, THEIR browser, etc. I believe consumers have the right to more freedom than that.”

    Yeah, I can’t believe Microsoft pulls that. BTW, at what point will I be allowed to play my iTunes-purchased files on my Zune and my Blackberry? Or WinAmp? Need to understand why Apple is better than Microsoft here. Isn’t that lock-in on the device?

  2. Sandy,

    You raise a great point, and I’m sorry for the long delay in replying to your comment.

    Apple never released Plays For Sure and then screwed over all the people that got behind that when they released what Microsoft thinks is a worthy iPod competitor. Some people who bought Zunes really like them, and that’s a good thing. But Apple did release iTunes for Windows, and it has all the same content that iTunes for Mac does.

    I’m of the opinion that the iPod is the best music and video player available today. And it has been for years. In other words, aside from a lack of a subscription model (which many people prefer, but I don’t) the iPod gives me (and close to a hundred million other consumers) what I want, and it offers it in the form of an amazing device.

    I realize you can’t buy DRM’d media from the iTunes music store and play it on devices other than an iPod. But the difference here (in my opinion) is that the iPod gives me everything I want. Microsoft’s devices (including the Zune) don’t do that. I understand that some will disagree with me on that.

    Finally, I chose the Apple platform for many, many reasons. I chose the iPod and iTunes for many, many reasons. The iTunes Plus content CAN be played on other devices, and if you prefer those devices, by all means you should use them.

    So I don’t have to use Macs to enjoy iTunes content. I can use Windows if I want. That’s what Microsoft refuses to do. I do have to use an iPod for the DRM’d files, but my point here is that the iPod is a great device – one that I’ve had no complaints about in three years. When I had a Pocket PC and a Smartphone, I had lots of complaints.

    If Apple wanted to play the game like Microsoft did, they never would have released it for Windows.

  3. Thanks for the response, Russ.

    I agree on Plays For Sure. I personally never understood why they abandoned that initiative and don’t think it was a wise move. That said, I don’t know enough about the details of the decision to make any comment and people I’ve heard from suggest it was done pre-maturely. That said, to be insanely clear, I am definitely not defending Microsoft. What I am saying is that Apple is not much better. Before you slam Plays for Sure too hard, I’d ask Motorola about their opinion of Apple after the launch of the ROKR phone. That pretty much coincided with the downfall of the Motorola handset business and a lot of people question Apple’s lack of transparency to Motorola in releasing the nano simultaneously. I’d also check on those Mac clones that came out in the mid-90s and how Steve Jobs unceremoniously dumped them. Good move for Apple, but not for those companies that lost on the clones.

    Your opinion is that the iPod is superior and therefore, choice is moot. Why would anyone want anything other than an iPod, so it’s OK that there isn’t an alternative? That’s great and congratulations to you. But that is rooted in the opinion of a Fanboy (I can still call you that right?), not an absolute fact. If you’re going to treat argument fairly, you’ve gotta leave the religious zealotry behind. I wouldn’t use market share and hundreds of millions of users as the litmus for having given the people what they want or else I’ll cite Windows market share statistics as the proof of its superiority over OS X (and I KNOW you don’t buy that argument 🙂 ). Believe it or not, I’ve met people who’ve preferred Sansas, Dell DJs, and yes, even Zunes. Personally, I love using my Blackberry for music on occasion because it’s one less device to carry and I can use my Bluetooth headphones—which is great when on the long commute where pesky wires can be a nuisance. I still have a Zune and an iPod as well, but neither can offer me that feature. The problem is that, despite being an loyal iPod user, my iTunes purchases will not transfer over–even though I have a clear use case where another device is superior to my nano. Couldn’t Apple open the DRM engine for others to implement the same way? Then iTunes and iPod aren’t a forced package deal. Is Microsoft better? No. But is Apple free and open. No.

    (Oh, and for what it’s worth, I’ve got a lot of complaints about my iPod [couldn’t get the thing to sleep, couldn’t replace the battery which is also a Zune flaw, spontaneously turned on and ran out of batteries on occasion, scratched up within three days of getting it] to the point where I had to get a new one. So while I’m glad that you haven’t had complaints in three years, much like my experience with Vista, just because I don’t have complaints [I haven’t had one issue with my current instance] doesn’t mean the rest of the world is thrilled…)

    You’re stuck on OS as the needed common platform, but as we move into a new generation, device platform will become more relevant and mobile ubiquity will grow more important as computing continues to move away from the PC. Frankly, there are a lot of people in this world who want to listen to music when their PC is off, so Windows vs OS X isn’t the primary argument. Apple is trying to build an entertainment ecosystem with iPods/iPhones and AppleTVs. And Microsoft is trying to do the same with Zunes/Smartphones and Xboxes. THAT is the real entertainment platform battle. What if, God forbid, Microsoft delivered an ultra-compelling v3 of Zune? If I’ve invested in 1000 tracks on iTunes, what chance do I have of buying a Zune if it ever did surprass the iPod? I’d still buy another iPod unless it was overwhelmingly in favor of the new format (CDs over cassettes, DVD over VHS) and even then, the adoption curve is slow. Purchasing an inferior product for more money because you want to protect existing assets. Isn’t that the definition of lock-in? It’s no different than the legions of people that might have preferred OS X, but already owned Windows apps. And frankly, for non technophiles, Windows has everything they want (e-mail, browser, word processor). Why would they need anything else? And while OS X is only on Mac hardware, Windows is on Dell, HP, Sony, etc. Isn’t that choice? Heck, the main reason I own a MacBook Pro is the hardware (and I’ve still got a dozen beefs with Apple on that). I use Vista for 70% of my use. It runs Office better (sorry, I’ll give Apple kudos whenever it is due, but iWork sucks). It runs Messenger better. It runs Firefox better. It runs Visual Studio. I use the Mac for Text Wrangler and Xcode—fine apps, but hardly a pair that would lure the average user. Of course, at least I can run Windows on a Mac. Why won’t Apple let me run OS X on a Vaio or a UMPC? That doesn’t seem very open.

    Two more things worth considering when making your argument:
    1 – Apple did not build iTunes for Windows because they are the open company. In fact, v1 was only for OS X, as I recall. They built it for Windows because that was the only way they could establish market share. iPods would have <20% market share right now if they only built for OS X–bad business move. If OS X had 90% market share, do you think Apple would’ve built a Windows version? Don’t mistake altruism for a grab at market share. Evil? No Sneaky? No. But open? Not quite.

    2 – Remember that Microsoft’s most profitable product (Office) and three most popular client-side applications (IE, Messenger, Windows Media Player) have both been written for Macs, though IE and WMP have been discontinued because people weren’t bothering. And I believe Silverlight is compatible with Safari as well.

    I’m all for an open MS and open Apple. I’ve got no biases, own multiple Apple products, and don’t think anything Apple has done is wrong per se. I think they’ve done it in the name of business and I don’t blame them. If I had iPod’s market share, I’d want to defend too. I just wish the double-standards with Microsoft would end. From open source to Google to Apple, people always give Microsoft the short end of the stick. Let’s just admit that none of them are intensely honorable and move on. The Microsoft bashing is so 1999. Move on to Google bashing like the rest of the world has…

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