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Friday, February 20, 2009

Google Communications and Media Convergence

By way of introduction to this article, here is an email that I sent to Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt:


I am writing an blog article that I have titled "Google Communications and Media Convergence". The basic premise is that Google is poised to become the center of "everyman's" media and communications experience. I envision AdWords/AdSense making the jump to cell phones, television, and home phones using the entertainment and communications as a service model.

Services including Android powered mobile and home phone (or possible VoIP phones using wifi and 3G), Android powered TV's or set top boxes and radios offering streaming media services, all free ad supported services. Enabled by Google's nationwide infrastructure, which will be enhanced by the administrations "Stimulus Package" with funds for broadband, and through your partnership with GE for revamping the power grid.

If you would like to read it, please visit my blog at:


Thank you.

Jeffrey C. Johnson

I recon it's pretty presumptuous to think he or anyone at Google will ever read this post, but thought it would be a nice gesture none the less.

Google wants to be the center of your world by combining rich media and telephony into a giant advertising mashup. Picture this, you turn on your mobile or desktop phone and call Uncle Charlie. During the course of the conversation, uncle Charlie mentions that he is looking for a good price for a digital media center. Your phones then pop up several internet ads for media center packages and components. You click on a link or say, "looks like Big Buy has some good deals", and your touch screen home or mobile phone pulls up the Big Buy ad with a prompt saying "Would you like to be connected to this merchant after your call?" You or your uncle say "Yes" or press "OK" on the phone and when your call ends you are automatically routed to the stores website and the closest store to you has their phone number dialed, and the same ad you are looking at pulls up on store clerks terminal.

Add to this the possibility of GoogleTV. Internet based TV service that includes web enabled features that allow much more focused advertising to viewers. It seems like a logical progression from today's media-center integration. People like having all their various media types available from a central location, which for many is the living room television. Going back to the example above, if you are getting all your services (internet, home phone, mobile phone, video broadcast, etc.) from the same vendor, all the services could be tightly integrated. Instead of the Ad popping up on your phone, it could show up in a ticker at the top of your TV screen. Since your TV is web enabled, you could then pop up a PIP view of the Ad with your remote then connect to the site and buy immediately.

Sounds kind of far out, right? Well, maybe, but the technology already exists and is being used piecemeal right now. Look at some of Google's new products, acquisitions, and partnerships over the past couple of years and you see a pattern emerging. Many have speculated about a Google Desktop Operating System, but I think that completely misses the boat. That is a small vision that is destined to failure. However, a platform like Android, that is vendor, and hardware independent - That is grand, and extremely compelling.

Google has been consistently improving it's infrastructure over the past several years. We have seen stories about Google buying Dark Fiber, and about their work building "portable datacenters". With the Broadband money in Obama's "Stimulus Package", combined with Google's recent partnership with GE for overhauling the nations energy grid, that trend is sure to continue. "Hey, while we have the ground open working on the energy pipelines, how about we add some of this dark fibre we happen to have here ...".

This is just a very rough overview sketch of future possibilities, but like any good pundit, I am going to guess a timeframe for this type of convergence. We should see something like this by 2020. I do believe, however, that we will begin seeing fruition of some of these ideas and technologies sooner rather than later. As with any prediction, there are many factors involved - political, economic, social, and technological.

For example, I think a smart company like Google will go slow on this path, especially during the present "Big Business Hostile" administration. After all, no sooner than the current president has taken office, than his newly appointed "antitrust chief" has set her sights on Google.

Keeping this in mind, unless the newly elected president really messes something up, I think it's safe to assume he will be re-elected, which pushes us out to 2016 before this type of media, entertainment, communication consolidation has a chance. Anything done before then could run the risk of nationalization or at least huge antitrust battles.

This article is subject to editing and revision, as it is somewhat of a rough draft. I also hope to follow up with more details on some of the concepts mentioned in future blog posts.

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