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Author: Google's Patents Reveal Strategy To Beat Microsoft

According to “The Google Legacy,'' history is about to repeat itself. Microsoft today is where IBM was years ago. And Google is in a position to do to Bill Gates what he did to IBM. The result could be a new industry kingpin.

Dig deeper into Google, dig into its software and engineering patents and you’ll find a roadmap for its future, says an author and online systems specialist, who believes the patents also spell bad news for Microsoft if the tech world moves to a new Google-dominated network paradigm.

“Google really doesn’t hide things,” said Stephen E. Arnold, who has written a book on his one-year odyssey studying the search firm. “Bill Gates is basically in the same spot he had IBM in. IBM was challenged by Microsoft and IBM didn’t understand Microsoft’s business model. It’s history repeating itself.”

Arnold, author of “The Google Legacy”, said in an interview this week, that it appears that Microsoft doesn’t understand Google in much the same way that IBM didn’t understand Microsoft 20 years ago. “It will be the Googleplex from 2004 to 2020 – a network paradigm,” said Arnold. “It will be enabled by Google’s approach to innovation.”

In placing Google’s patents under microscopic scrutiny, Arnold said he believes Google is not so much protecting its past technology innovation, but is positioning itself for the future with the first stop targeting Yahoo!’s Web advertising. Microsoft will come into its gun sights later.

“These patents suggest that Google is looking beyond search, possibly targeting such companies as Microsoft, as Google tries to become the leading info tech company of the 21st Century,” he said.

Arnold has identified 72 patents with Google heritage that were filed during the first six months of 2005. That compares with the 47 Google patents he found from 2001 through 2004.

In Arnold’s analysis, he said some filings in the patent portfolio point to an accelerated use of high-speed fiber and wireless that could be used to deliver Google technology. “Google already has some number of data centers where it’s good to have high-speed connections,” he said.

With Wi-Fi currently working its way into communities across the world and with wide area WiMAX ready to be deployed in a big way next year, it could be a natural fit for Google to deliver its technology over these high-speed links, free of charge. Noting that Google is moving to VoIP via its recently-announced Google Talk, the high-speed connections appear tailor-made for delivering streaming video, Arnold said.

Google is testing Google Wi-Fi in locations near its headquarters in Silicon Valley. Arnold said China, India and Japan are attractive and ripe for Google to deliver its services over high-speed wireless links.

In a broader sense, Arnold believes Google is building a “patent fence around search” technology as the firm moves to codify its unique competitive advantage. An ultimate goal of the firm is to deliver completely individualized ads to users.

While Google currently dominates Microsoft in search usage and technology, Arnold believes that even Microsoft’s desktop software dominance isn’t safe from assault from Google. He notes that Google’s RTF (the mechanism in Gmail to add fonts, bullets, colors, etc. to a Gmail message) feature already implements some 70 percent of the functions of Microsoft Office; Google Maps has underlying technology that could compete with Microsoft’s PowerPoint.

Another industry observer, Joe Wilcox, senior analyst at JupiterResearch, believes that Google represents a “version 2” challenge to Microsoft’s Windows dominance. “Version 1,” according to Wilcox, was the earlier threat to Microsoft’s dominance represented by Netscape’s browser.

“Windows is threatened again (by Google) and in some ways the threat is greater than before,” said Wilcox. “Google is betting on search as the next platform.” Wilcox believes there are still some big “ifs” in the future of the Google rollout – whether the search firm can execute its business plan well and what Microsoft will do to respond.

Arnold calls the search company’s universe “Googleplex” using the name the company has given to its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. Because of its massively parallelized distributed network tied together with very high speed links, the Googleplex as seen by Arnold can be expanded indefinitely. As it evolves, users on the virtual network won’t need to backup, or setup or restore.

Arnold, author of six books and scores of articles on online technologies, has had hands-on online expertise as vice president of electronic business information for Ziff Communications and as a vice president in charge of electronic publishing at the Courier-Journal & Louisville Times Co. He is head of Arnold Information Technology of Louisville, Ky.

"The Google Legacy" (Infonortics, $180.00 per download) is available in online PDF version only. An online order form and a sample chapter are also available.

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