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A Debate Over Google’s Power

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In my May Biznology newsletter, I took issue with those who believe Google is too powerful. I don’t think Google controls as much as what Microsoft does and nowhere near what IBM did back in the 1970s. Marshall Sponder disagrees.

Marshall believes that Google might be even more powerful than Microsoft and IBM were because "most of the world is involved now." If I understand his argument, he’s saying that because technology is more pervasive than ever, the leading technology company is more powerful than ever.

It sounds sensible (and Marshall is nothing if not sensible), but I still don’t agree (curmudgeon that I am). To me, the more players involved in technology, the less power they each have. IBM invented new industries, such as software. Microsoft controlled the operating system and extended that power into Office applications, with 90% share in each. Google has, by even the most charitable estimate, 65% of search. While search is an important technical area, it hardly seems as important as all of software, or even operating systems and office applications.

I read Marshall’s blog each day—you should, too—but I still think that Google’s power pales in comparison with the first two all-powerful technical companies. Google is a very important company, but it controls less than what Microsoft and IBM did in their hey-days.

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