Google DNS, for users or shareholders

Many of us saw this coming at some point. The traditional cookies based user tracking is probably not the most optimum way to track user behaviour and search based tracking is not all encompassing. But when you have data of each and every site a particular user visits, its information heaven. It provides endless possibilities and the data mining potential is limitless. All companies want to track how customers are using their products, buying and spending patterns etc. Companies like Coke are spending millions to capture this kind of intelligence from its supply chain. For someone like Coke, the challenges to acheive this data is humungus at comes at a very high cost, nonetheless its worth it.
So if Google gets even a fraction of its user base (which is like everyone on the internet?), to use their DNS service, the information that could be collected can provide them enormous competitive advantage over their competitors as well as new entrants. Plus it will allow them to develop new product and services based on that data
And they can do all this without selling their data and by maintaining user anonymity and privacy.

Today, the David U. of openDNS shared his thoughts on googleDNS service. He pointedout the main differences between the openDNS and the google DNS service, and highlighted the competitive differentiators of his service. As a openDNS user, I am not very likely to leave and go for the google service, nor do I think other users are going to defect. But then there is only a subset of internet users who are aware that a services exists as an alternative to their ISP’s DNS service and the most common internet user probably doesnt know and doesnt care what DNS his computer is pointing to. Google service will be targeting this user. This is where the brand comes into the play. When this user finds about this new service that Google is offering, he will be keen to try it out and most likely he will be happy to see the speed and overall improvement of his browsing experience.
Google is maintaining that is not another targeting or personalization scheme. But then it doenst have to be as there are plenty of other ways that data can be used. Note that they are going to hang on to the IP address temporarily and location information permanently.

On the flip side, ofcourse, the industry and the user community is much better off if Google really wants to do what it claims, making web faster for everyone…Competing services will be forced to improve their DNS infrastructure and everyone will be better off.

GVoice

Google seems to have partnered with major operators including Level3, Neustar and Global crossing. Most of these companies are probably helping them with PSTN interconnectivity, rate center coverage and LNP, CNAM types of services.
Obviously Google is not looking to create its own telecom network. The intensions are quite obvious that they want to include telecom into their cloud that at present does pretty much everything. Now whether they want to include end user voice/video access or just remain focused on the cloud intelligence is debatable. First, if they do offer end user voice access, they will become a VoIP provider like Skype (why not buy Skype?). That will invite rules, regulations and scuffles with telcos that Google don’t want to get into. Second, it takes a while to build a robust customer support platform. It took years for Skype to be where it is today.

However it won’t be surprising if Google integrates its voice service with existing voice and video chat service. Then tightly integrate Gmail with Gvoice. Build Gvoice add-ons with its chrome browser and android OS. Enable click to call on Blogger, Orkut, and the newly hyped Gwave. The possibilities are endless for the cash rich company. And there are no apparent reasons why it won’t pursue those.

In my last post I purposely left out the discussion regarding the Google Voice’s support of actual end clients; as it’s a whole new discussion. Also I want to make it clear, that Google Voice service will ultimately drive more traffic for carriers and put more dimes into the pocket to the telcos. Who stand to lose out (not immediately though) are the companies which play in the cloud hosted services industry, either for consumers or enterprises (if Google apps can do it, so can Google voice).

Rich kid on my block

Not many voice providers seem to be worried about the recently launched Google voice service. It’s probably not in anyone’s interest to raise a concern and appear fazed, because the impact is so apparent that there is not point panicking over it. And it’s too late to wait. Just within months, Google is claiming it has over 1.419 million Google Voice subscribers. And half of them use the service actively. Mind that the Google voice service is still beta and available only through references.
The service which is essentially free provides the end user with a telephone number along with a pot load of call routing intelligence features. Users can then point their Google voice number to any of their other numbers, cell, home, office etc. and while doing so make use of the cool routing features that the service offers.

Traditionally end user would pay their local phone provider for each feature (For example: call forwarding, voicemail, caller id etc.) and most of them were expensive. VoIP phone providers started offering these and other advanced (VoIP) features with their bundled offerings. (Simultaneous ringing, visual voicemail, call hunting, web portal etc). They used these as a service differentiator for their services and offered them at attractive pricing. Google voice will take that all away, making it available to all for free. If the Google voice service works as claimed, not only the traditional phone providers are in trouble, but the VoIP providers will also face the doom. While some providers are scrambling to figure out the next big service differentiator (unless they figure out a way to offer their service for subzero prices); some still prefer to wait and watch.

Last week AT&T filed a complaint with FCC alleging that the Google voice blocks access to certain numbers which is against the FCC ruling. Google defends saying that it’s not a traditional phone service provider and should not be subjected to the same rulings. What FCC decides remains to be seen, and even if it rules against Google, it’s just a drop in its bucket. But for AT&T, this complaint is probably a way of welcoming the newest member to its hundred year old club.

Closing the Chapter (orignally posted on Aug 2009)

Nortel had once the market cap of over 200 billion dollars. The shares were trading less than a penny while it filed for chapter 11. For most part it’s the financial and operating mismanagement that’s underlining the collapse. Now whether Nortel emerges successfully remains to be seen, there is no doubt that it will have to sell off most of its flagship businesses. Up for grabs is its Metro Ethernet business, and others could include Unified Communication division, Enterprise Networking division and wireless business. The likely suitors and bidders are being speculated, but it will be interesting what will be retained while it’s going through the bankruptcy process.

For someone who has started their career with Nortel, its disappointing to see its collapse, but as an ex- insider this wasn’t as surprising. Reeling with dotcom bust, accounting scandals, and mismanagement, the company was fighting an uphill battle just to break even. Putting behind all the losses, to make the company profitable again, Nortel hired Mike Z from Moto in a hope of revamping its operating structure drastically. Lots of changes were brought into the company including adoption of six sigma paradigm, a decision with an outcome that is still uncertain. I ditched Nortel, just about when sig sigma was being introduced. To me it was the last thing Nortel needed and a blow to the company already leaning south. Not discounting LSS, I felt is was wrong time and place for it. This was precisely the time; the focus should have been R&D and innovation. It was a time to encourage the great research and technical potential to create new products, reassert technical leadership where Nortel was loosing ground and restore the customer confidence as a company what will deliver strong products into the future that is worthy of a long lasting relationship. LSS should have/could have followed. More outsiders didn’t either value or didn’t understand where Nortel’s core potential lied. The new CEO proved to be no different.

The new initiative did yield certain results that showed improved customer satisfaction and retention; however customers were not certain as to what the company was doing for the products they expected to help them effectively compete in the market that’s coming in next decade. Most of the ¾ of the employee base that Nortel let go during the beginning of this decade were absorbed by competitors and upstarts who made bets on Nortel’s loosing ground and catered to that very need of Nortel’s core customers. Share holders realized this development and started dumping the stock. I don’t know why it was so hard for executive management to realize. With these inefficiencies, the current recession gave a final blow and put Nortel -or at least the Nortel we once known and felt proud of-, to rest.

There are probably more people who wanted to see Nortel survive and thrive than the people who wished otherwise. Those shareholders who hanged on to the stock even after loosing millions, even those employees who lost their life’s savings in their 401k, even those customers who remained loyal, all for the institution that is was once.