Google's New Page - InformationWeek
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4/5/2011
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Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google's New Page

Larry Page has replaced Eric Schmidt as Google's CEO. Here's a to-do list for the company's chief executive.

Google co-founder Larry Page assumed the role of CEO on Monday, replacing Eric Schmidt who led the company for the past 10 years.

Page previously served as Google's co-president with Sergey Brin, the company's other founder. But Google has grown significantly since then, and perhaps more significantly, a backlash against the company is underway.

Since its incorporation in 1998, Google has disrupted a number of industries and irked government officials in the U.S. (privacy, refusing to turn over search data), China (resisting censorship requirements), Germany (Street View) and Italy (YouTube), among other countries. Its continued dominance of search advertising has competitors like Microsoft complaining to the European Union about unfair competition and backing a Do-Not-Track proposal as a way to limit Google's data collection advantage. U.S. regulators have begun inquires into Google's search business.

Google's plan to purchase travel software company ITA has prompted organized opposition, with Microsoft again playing a role. Its previously lax approach to privacy led to mishandled product launches such as Google Buzz and the inadvertent vacuuming of data exposed via Wi-Fi. This has armed competitors with ammunition and forced the company into a settlement with the FTC that will subject it to a decade of privacy reviews by regulators.

Google's ambitious plan to digitize the world's books and make them available online has run into the weathered but still sturdy roadblock of copyright law. Its stand against Chinese government censorship and against attacks on its infrastructure last year has added additional impediments to success in China, where even the most fawning foreign businesses struggle with a capricious legal system and rules that favor local companies.

Google's open source Android mobile operating system has elicited a major lawsuit from Oracle, while its mobile hardware partners have been targeted by Apple and Microsoft, among others. Meanwhile, Android developers continue to complain about Android fragmentation, at least one notable handset makers is mulling alternatives to Android, and Amazon is offering an Android Appstore of its own.

Then there's Google TV, opposed by various media companies, and the company's advocacy of Net Neutrality, opposed by telecom companies to the point that Google subsequently partnered with Verizon and proposed a compromise.

And if all that weren't enough, Google must deal with Facebook, which offers a vision of computing organized around people rather than search keywords.

In short, Larry Page has a lot to think about and enemies to spare. And since Google has always been thoughtful enough to suggest search terms, I thought I might offer some suggestions in return.

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