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Google is not a technology company

September 3, 2008

I know we're used to thinking of it that way, but I think that image belies the nature of the company or what it's rapidly evolving into. Google has created some pretty cool technology, have some of the best and brightest working away in the Googleplex, but are they a technology company?

I've been seeing a lot of posts about Chrome, Google's really interesting new browser, but why are they releasing a browser? I've been contemplating Google's unique position in the tech space, and the fact that they make almost none of their money in that space.

If you take the perspective that they are not a technology company, why would they want to do this? If they're not a technology company, then what? Google is in the business of advertising. Granted, their approach is very hight tech, but at it's core, the vast majority of their revenue comes from ads.

Taking that view one possible motivation for creating their own browser comes into focus. What are the most popular browser plugins for Firefox? Ad blockers. If you control the browser, and you're an advertising company, you can keep people from ignoring your ads.

I'm sure creating the "browser as OS" or possibly just improving the browser experience as a more stable platform for google apps, or possibly a development platform for Android were part of their reasoning for releasing Chrome, but at the moment they make almost no money from those types of efforts. The one thing I haven't heard anyone talk about, and that I wouldn't totally discount is the control of the 'advertising channel'. I wouldn't be surprised if Chrome either will intentionally lack a plugin architecture, or, at a minimum, will involve a vetting process that "for your safety" conveniently also disallows ad blockers.

It's interesting to look at their actions in this way. Google is an advertising company and becoming more so each day.