Feeds

Murdoch: Google is mortal and together we can kill it

Or at least tame it

Intelligent flash storage arrays

"Everybody loves the BBC and it doesn't cost anything, Murdoch should learn a thing or two." - Comment by reader 'peter 3' at The Register

Everyone's missed the clever part of Rupert Murdoch's broadside against Google last week. Murdoch said he'd block Google from spidering his websites' content, and may use litigation against public broadcasters such as the BBC, who use material spawned in his papers. The conventional wisdom from web gurus was that he was off his rocker, and his comments were the last gasp of a Luddite. And that shows you what the conventional wisdom of web pundits is worth.

What Murdoch has done is say the unspeakable. He's offered a roadmap for taming Google - and a re-ordering of everything we take for granted about the web today. He can't do so alone, which is why his real audience included media and entertainment executives who lack the courage to think such heresies. But he invited the prospect that without its expensively-produced material, Google stops being the omnivorous destroyer of their livelihoods they suppose it is today. And this, in turn, means Google's own investment decisions today may be horribly misplaced.

But let's wind back a moment - you need to see the contours of the set in this particular drama.

Although they'd never admit it, Rupert Murdoch and Google have one thing in common: both benefit from their powers being exaggerated to almost mythic proportions. Google is supposedly the destroyer of all businesses in advertising, media and entertainment who dare defy its rules. It has the wisdom of a prophet - it's a modern Jesus, the loopier web evangelists want us to believe.

Similarly Murdochs is an omniscient Bond villain who apparently has Governments in his pocket, and has the power to crush the tiny embattled public sector. (Jonathan Pryce played a media tycoon called Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies.) The name "Murdoch" is enough to provoke a Five Minute Hate in any polite North London media circles.

Both live up to their reputations, too, because doing business is easier that way.

In fact they're very mortal indeed; both "empires" are somewhat less than imperial - they're uniquely vulnerable, in their respective ways. Murdoch operates in a fiercely competitive field, seeing production and distribution costs remain high but ad rates fall, and he's at the mercy of politically motivated regulators. The recommendation to strip Sky of English cricket broadcast rights - which it won fairly at auction - and hand it to the Beeb, which didn't even bid, is a sharp reminder of how business works at the whim of politicians.

For its part, Google is (still) a one-trick pony, and regular readers of our investigations into its "black box" auction system know how vulnerable that is - both to gaming, and regulatory intervention. Google is permitted to set the price of doing business on the internet, a state of affairs that cannot last indefinitely.

What Murdoch did last week is invite us to contemplate Google's mortality. It's quite simple.

If Murdoch blocked Google's spiders, and others followed suit, then the value of Google search index would fall dramatically. It wouldn't go away, but a company whose mission is to "organise the world's information" has a unique problem. If it can't access that information, then the mission statement will never be fulfilled.

What Google would be left with is an apparatus - created at great expense - for collecting much of the world's garbage. Google becomes the world's most stupid tape recorder - collecting all the dross that was never intended to be recorded - drivel, overheard. Much of this is spam, created by bots; much of the rest is chatter.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.