Business Week asks in a cover story if Google has become too powerful.
To the consternation of many of those companies and more, Google is now using that market cap, along with its $11 billion hoard of cash and investments, to storm a wide range of traditional markets. It’s selling ads in newspapers, magazines, radio, and, in a trial program, television. In February it fired a torpedo at the software industry with a suite of online office software it is selling for a small fraction of the price of Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT ) Office. It’s spooking the telecom industry with fledgling efforts to provide free wireless Internet access. Google’s phenomenal ad machine, in short, has the potential to vaporize the profits of any industry that traffics in bits and bytes and to shift the economics to the advantage of Google, its users, and its cadre of partners. “It’s Google’s world,” shrugs Chris Tolles, vice-president of marketing at Topix Inc., which makes money from running Google ads on its news aggregation site. “We just live in it.”
Googlezon, GoogleWorld, just plain Googlewhatever you call it, it’s scaring the wits out of everyone from the power lunchers of Hollywood to Madison Avenue ad moguls to Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Now, after years of hand-wringing and thumb-twiddling, some of them are pulling out the heavy artillery and firing one round after another on the Googleplex, the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.