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Google chief dampens Office hype, allays net future paranoia

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Google's token grown-up Eric Schmidt has dampened the hype surrounding the company's acquisition of Writely last week - and says that fears over the loss of "network neutrality" are largely unfounded.

Google has no plans to enter the Office market, he confirmed. Google bought the bobbleware start-up Writely, said Schmidt, because Google could use a good, web-based rich text editor.

"Office is not the business we're in," Schmidt told journalists in New York. [*].

And a few weeks ago, we noticed, Writely's creator agreed. If you want an analogy, Writely is as much of an Office-killer as a catapult and an apple are a Missile Defense Shield - but that didn't stop hundreds of hacks getting their Office war on.

However, Schmidt said he did view Writely as a data collection tool - so consider yourselves duly warned.

Intriguingly, Schmidt said no infrastructure or service provider has yet to ask Google to pay a higher toll. Comments by AT&T chief Ed Whitacre that content providers need to pay more to guarantee traffic quality for data moved over his company's pipes has caused great agitation in some quarters, fearing that the telecomm oligopolists will use the opportunity to turn themselves into gatekeepers.

On the other hand, Verizon's expensive fiber investments leave plenty of capacity to spare to carry internet traffic such as the web page you're reading alongside the IPTV services it wants to introduce. And it's hard to see who else is going to invest in bringing the USA's increasingly antiquated network infrastructure up to date.

Maybe we can have a bake sale?

While Schmidt is clearly no fan of a multi-tier or multispeed net - at least not on Ed Whitacre's terms - he doesn't sound like the sky's falling. Maybe he's got a Plan B - with rumors that Google can deploy POPs (Points of Presence) of its own should the balloon go up. You can read our recent discussion with Mark Cuban, a multispeed proponent, here. ®

* Bootnote: Lots of you have excellent questions for Schmidt, but we were unable to pose them on your behalf - as our invitation must have been lost in the post.

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