So much has been made about Google’s entry into the Internet Service Provider (ISP) market since the announcement of Google Fiber in July. The pilot program in Kansas City, KS/MO involves delivering Internet and TV over a glass fibers connection that promises speeds up to 100 times faster than current average Internet connection speeds.
However, a brief look into the history of the company will reveal that Google’s intention isn’t mainly to gain market share in household Internet delivery. Google’s primary focus and big investment into fiber is and has always been all about online advertising dollars.
A History Lesson About Google and New Markets
In late 2008, Google introduced Chrome, a new Web browser that promised to speed up and drive innovation on the Web. At the time, the majority of tech sites were covering the differences between Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox to determine which browser would dominate the market.
Only a few writers had enough foresight to point out the greater strategic move Google was making. Chrome wasn’t about browser share (at least not then). At the time, Chrome’s main goal was to force IE and Firefox to speed up their products to prevent losing users to a faster Google browser.
With that one move, Google planted the seeds for a faster Internet, where a growing number of Internet users spend an ever-increasing amount of time looking at a constantly expanding amount of content, all of which contained monetizable, clickable, and beautiful AdWords ads.
“Note that Google likes to talk about its three main efforts: search, ads, and apps,” wrote Stephen Shankland for CNET, in one of the only pieces to highlight Google’s true motivations to enter the browser market. “With Chrome, all three benefit.”
Four years ago, Google moved a level closer to its users by moving from the search engines to browser, all in the name of ads. Now it’s taking another step closer by adding Google Fiber, and again it’s in the name of speed and with the goal of increasing ad revenue.
Doubling Down on the Future of Advertising
Why does Google need an Internet that is 100 times faster than what we have today? It’s betting that the future of television, radio, and the rest of media will be facilitated by a single Internet-based connection.
As entire industries shift from traditional to digital media, Google has positioned well to become the main advertising broker for any type of media. AdWords used to be just big with the text and display ads, but just wait until all of media is running through Google and YouTube. It’s already starting.
As of right now, 48 hours of video are being uploaded onto YouTube every minute. Much of it is the Internet content vapor that is cats on treadmills and blowing things up, but YouTube is also a hotbed for quality new media experimentation.
For example, Google recently doubled its initial $100M investment in unique programming for YouTube channels for interesting publishers such as AwesomenessTV and The YOMYOMF Network, both of which boast an awesome number of subscribers and video views.
Combined with Google Fiber’s cable TV subscription service, these investments in new media will see Google acquiring more and more content inventory that it will then monetize though both greater control of existing advertising space and by creating new places to serve video ads.
Pulling a Chrome on Comcast
My original assumption is that Google Fiber is really just about advertising, but who knows? Maybe Google does want to take over the ISP and cable TV deliver space, in addition to generating more ad revenue. It learned from Chrome that it could dominate the market if it released a great product and then iterated tirelessly to cater to user needs, especially when the competition lags behind user demand.
Cable and Internet delivery is ripe for the picking.
I don’t know anyone who absolutely loves his/her Comcast service or the archaic interface through which we’re forced to consume our TV programming. It doesn’t take a branding expert to realize that Xfinity is likely at least part of an attempt to distance Comcast’s reputation for customer service from its current Internet service.
Maybe it’s about both the advertising and the media markets for Google. I wouldn’t put it past them considering its success with search, Android, and Chrome.
If one thing is certain, Comcast and others better quickly improve the speed of their Internet delivery, or Google will soon gobble up share of the ISP market just like it did with Chrome in the browser market, as it stampedes its way towards a faster Internet and ever-increasing online advertising revenues.