Google is the new black

Rumours mount over Google’s internet plan

Google is working on a project to create its own global internet protocol (IP) network, a private alternative to the internet controlled by the search giant, according to sources who are in commercial negotiation with the company.

With job postings for positions that fit with Google transitioning from a search engine into a global backbone provider.

Very interesting follow-up to other thoughts about all that dark fibre. But don’t forget the borg cubes they’ve been working on. This would be a content provider with their own backbone, and that means they are more akin to an Internet version of a cable network.

I can’t help but be reminded by this search engine becoming a global carrier of the way that many BBS operators became Internet Service Providers in the first days of the commercial Internet, early in the 90’s when the rules changed.

I don’t think many of those BBS operations managed to survive independently. I suppose, now that I think about it, AOL started that way and they consumed Compuserve too, which was the service that was packaged with every modem for so many years, including my old C64’s 300 baud modem.

But, the mom & pops all died or got bought, I suspect. Quite a few got consumed by small telecoms or conglomerated into national providers, like Olywa being purchased by ATG and Verio/NTT, or even Earthlink’s aquisitions as just a sample. They got shoved out of the business because they couldn’t keep up with the constant changes in technology, with two version of 56k, ISDN, and then DSL. Then, on the other side, there’s the changes in the marketplace. Once the big companies realized it was a stable market in which profits could be made, they stepped in to take that profit directly, instead of indirectly through intermediaries to whom they sold bandwidth.

When ISPs were making money, the backbone providers cried sour grapes about all the money they weren’t making, that was being made by the providers. Now, once again, there’s a similar reaction to Google making money providing services over the backbone. This reminds me of the way that large technology players drop R&D onto the marketplace, and then purchase what is successful, this is the Microsoft strategy par excellence. By externalizing the cost of risky development, most of which is likely to fail, it is possible to stablize R&D on more conservative ventures; this is in part a response to investor skittishness as well?

It may just happen that content moves closer to the large players, like how CBS has pulled in episodes of Survivor onto their own website. Seems like AOL just missed the curve when they got some cable broadband. I wonder if they should buy a backbone like Google is doing?

This is an interesting pattern of networks and services contracting into and diverging from each other. I suppose exploring back, the FIDOnets and BBS networking was a bit of and expansion from when BBS services were self-contained. Then, there’s also cases where ISPs attempted to provide local services, like game servers, etc … Any local service was almost free in comparison to accessing something outside the local network.

When the network is tied to the service, people will desire to uncouple them. But, when they are too abstracted, I wonder whether they desire them more closely tied together, for ease of use. This was the dynamic that kept AOL customer tumbling off into the hands of the local ISPs, until the major telecoms figured out how they could be unfriendly enough to push the independents out while staying within their regulatory binds.