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Google's Six-Front War 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the beware-the-russian-winter dept.
wasimkadak writes "While the tech world is buzzing about the launch and implications of Google's new social network, Google+, it's worth noting that Google isn't just in a war with Facebook, it's at war with multiple companies across multiple industries. In fact, Google is fighting a multi-front war with a host of tech giants for control over some of the most valuable pieces of real estate in technology."
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Google's Six-Front War

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  • Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @06:11PM (#36648862)

    The tech industry is basically building up the greatest case ever to be made for why patents, software patents especially, have transitioned away from their original intention and become far more a hindrance and obstruction rather than a means of getting useful knowledge out from closed circles.

  • Re:Patents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by countertrolling (1585477) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @06:19PM (#36648910) Journal

    ...their original intention...

    That's the part that everybody has gotten wrong so far.. Patents and copyrights are designed from the beginning to restrict the transfer and sharing of knowledge. If people are going to continue to claim property rights, they should pay a property tax. They should not be permitted to deny a license to use the property, and the government should be allowed to determine a reasonable price. Divulged knowledge is public property, exclusive privileges over it should come with a cost.

  • Re:Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @06:27PM (#36648962)

    Patents were made to ensure that in exchange for making information public, the inventor would get temporary exclusivity. The purpose was to get information that would have been held as a trade secret, or in past ages by trade guilds, and potentially lost. Now, of course, patents are useless as they rarely describe HOW to make the item in question, and are instead a vague concept grab and used not to protect the inventor but as clubs to beat others down with.

    Copyright is similar, though it was meant to give creators some incentive to create.

    If people are going to continue to claim property rights, they should pay a property tax.

    They don't claim property rights. They confuse the issue with the poor phrase "intellectual property" even though it isn't.

    Divulged knowledge is public property, exclusive privileges over it should come with a cost.

    They do come with a cost. Eventually they will lose the exclusive privilege to the information. The problems lie around the laws that make up copyright and patents.

  • Re:Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @06:39PM (#36649014)

    Who would spend R&D resources just to have others duplicate the finished product with no investment? Patents ensure that creators will have time to recoup costs.

    OMG! How on earth did the human race survive for millenia before patents? You're so right, without patents nobody would ever invent anything and we'd all still be living in damp caves arguing about who was going to be the dumbass to pay the development costs of inventing fire...

  • Re:Patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by countertrolling (1585477) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @06:41PM (#36649032) Journal

    It's not about society. It's about protecting specific interests, to protect industry from the effects of new technology that threatens its existence. From Gutenberg's printing press right up through the present and into the future. There is very little difference between these rules and the "Red Flag" laws that attempted to interfere with the use of the horseless carriage. Imagine having to to disassemble and hide your computer or TV set every time you wanted to read a newspaper.

  • Re:Patents (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 03, 2011 @06:53PM (#36649076)

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    Hmm, nothing about restricting the transfer and sharing of knowledge. Maybe you should have put more thought into it.

  • by ijakings (982830) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @06:54PM (#36649080)
    Many of their services are built around advertising, which is a point that many seem to miss. At the end of the day google want eyeballs on their ads, and if offering x service at break even or a loss gets enough eyeballs to those ads to make a profit, they are doing well.

    Obviously they can offer paid side services on top of this, like gmail for enterprise and google earth pro. Even android is about getting users on their platform, having their eyeballs where they want them.
  • Re:Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jc42 (318812) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @07:13PM (#36649176) Homepage Journal

    ... patents are designed to encourage otherwise secret matters to be made publicly available in exchange for a limited monopoly on their use. It would take a face much straighter than mine to claim, at least with respect to matters anywhere near software, that they are other than a mess today; but that was in fact the theory.

    Actually, if you consult various histories of the concept of patent, you'll find that restricting patents to new inventions is a rather recent (17th C?) development. Historically, it has long been common to (as the the US Patent Office now does) give a patent to anyone willing to pay the appropriate registration fee.

    As usual, wikipedia has an article that describes this [wikipedia.org], and mentions that it was James I who added the requirement to English law that a patent had to be for something new. He did this in response to some extreme abuse of the patent system to award common commodities (salt is mentioned) as a monopoly to a specific manufacturer, which effectively prevented previous manufacturers from continuing their business.

    But this isn't the first documented case of such things. There are a number of descriptions of an ancient Greek cooking contest, in which the winner was awarded a patent for one year, during which nobody else could produce the same dish. There's no hint that the winning entry had to be new; it just had to be the one preferred by the panel of judges, exactly like modern cooking contests.

    It's likely that the current US scheme of rewarding a patent for things well known in the industry isn't a corruption, but rather a return to the original use of patent law. It was designed to give a monopoly in exchange for paying whatever fee the local ruler(s) demanded.

    (This may seem cynical to modern readers, but it doesn't take much reading of the relevant ancient histories for it to pass from cynicism to understanding that this is one way that rulers have always enriched themselves.)

  • by bonch (38532) * on Sunday July 03, 2011 @07:34PM (#36649302)

    Slashdot in 2001: "Microsoft is evil. They're trying to leverage their success with Windows to take everybody down. They want to conquer everything and have you using Microsoft-branded operating systems, browsers, phones, webjournals, email, and more."

    Slashdot in 2011: "Google is awesome. They're leveraging the success of their search engine to enter these markets with their fantastic vision. I can't wait to use Google-branded operating systems, browsers, phones, blogs, email, and more."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 03, 2011 @07:35PM (#36649306)

    Does anyone else notice that Google has a lot of failed products and services?

    I'm not applying a value judgement to that just yet, as it may be a byproduct of a high innovation rate and willingness to take risks. However Google has this great reputation as a winning company and yet I'm struck by how many of their products have cratered.

    Recent examples would have to include Google Wave and Google Buzz. Google Books seems to have become bogged down in endless bickering.

  • Re:WAR? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) * on Sunday July 03, 2011 @07:40PM (#36649330)

    Thats why they got where they are. By NOT worrying about what everyone else is doing and trying to 'metoo' like microsoft does on everything.

    The last few years have seen Google do almost nothing else but worry about what everyone else is doing, from the iPhone to Bing to Facebook. That little company from ten years ago with the minimalist search engine is gone, and in its place is an advertising behemoth with an interest in releasing as many products as possible to harvest as much personal information as possible.

    Just like Microsoft was always trying to preserve the relevance of Windows and its API, Google is constantly trying to preserve the relevance of its advertising network. Facebook and Twitter threaten that because they have become the web for a lot of people (especially Facebook), which is why you get stuff like Google+ to try to keep people on their data network.

  • Re:Patents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vijayiyer (728590) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @07:58PM (#36649410)

    Maybe because in the millennia before patents the costs of development were low and the reward was high? There was little cost to inventing fire, but the benefit of survival on a cold night sure would have been nice.
    You can argue that possibly high cost development is a waste and that we're not better off as a society with that sort of R&D, but it seems a stretch to think that it would continue without the promise of financial compensation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 03, 2011 @08:17PM (#36649476)

    The difference is how it is fought as far as if it will be good for the customers. There are 2 ways to win marketshare, Method 1. Continue to add features capabilities and functionality and/or lower the cost to the point where the product is a significant step above the competition that people want to use it, ensure that if the competition wants to compete, they have to match your pace. Method 2. Stranglehold the competition, find ways to prevent the competition from developing, use legal forces/patents, create as many barriers to getting into the market or rising in the market that the opposition just can't get in the door. Regardless of if they have 10x better of a product, raise the barriers required to switch to ensure you keep marketshare.
     

    Google while they may not be a saint have a tendency to lean far stronger to method 1 then method 2, which IMO even if google has been/turned dark, what they have forced all competition to do just to keep up, is good for the consumers in all fields they compete in.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @08:24PM (#36649514)

    The difference: MS was trying to force people to use their new products. Google is creating good products and inviting people to use the

    Looks like Google's marketing was successful.

  • by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Sunday July 03, 2011 @08:38PM (#36649584)
    War by definition is a zero sum game.

    By what definition? I would consider war to be a negative-sum game.
  • Re:Patents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @08:49PM (#36649620)

    Without global communication, running water, food that was safe to eat, and an epically large pile of medicine.

    Because none of those things would have happened without patents.

  • Re:Patents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Sunday July 03, 2011 @10:15PM (#36649888)

    But I could argue that the concept of ownership is also just a social construct. In a lawless environment, I "own" everything that I can obtain with force. Without a functioning legal system the concept of ownership cannot be enforced.

    The fundamental principle behind property is "might makes right". You own what you can prevent others taking from you.

    The only difference between a lawful and lawless environment is that in the former you outsource the "might" part to designated groups of people (police, judges, etc).

    However, this fundamental principle doesn't apply to "intellectual property" because it can't be taken, it can only be duplicated. No matter how much might you wield, you can't make someone forget something.

  • Re:Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @10:39PM (#36649966)

    You can argue that possibly high cost development is a waste and that we're not better off as a society with that sort of R&D, but it seems a stretch to think that it would continue without the promise of financial compensation.

    Then why is it that the vast majority of inventors, scientists and artists who create the new inventions, discoveries and works of art, are employed for average salaries?

    If your idea was right, then nobody would go to work for Sony, GM, IBM, Monsanto or any corporation that produces patentable tech: those corps can make millions in licensing new technology, yet their employees get 100K odd a year. That's a huge disconnect, that can only be explained by the opposite of your idea: people do in fact invent and create without the promise of monopolistic rights to their inventions.

    Those rights mainly matter to sustain an entirely different class of people: not the inventors, scientists and artists, but the managers and investors whose sole concern is maximizing returns. If patents were abolished, they would suffer, but inventors would continue to invent at an increased pace.

  • Re:Patents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 03, 2011 @11:14PM (#36650052)

    Yeah, except that your "useful wikipedia article" makes absolutely no mention of copyrights existing "before Gutenberg", instead taking the (very conventional) approach of dating copyright from "efforts by the church and governments to regulate and control the output of printers".

    Before printing, copying was a laborious process that required scarce resources, highly trained labor and - above all - a great deal of time. To say that the church "controlled" what was copied is a bit like saying that the US government "controls" the FBI - they were paying the piper, so of course they called the tune, and to paint this as some kind of sinister ecclesiastical conspiracy is both silly and unnecessary.

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