Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Google: ‘We win’ even when economy suffers’

January 2, 2014

Slate

Bloomberg TV scored what it bills as “a rare interview” with Google chairman Eric Schmidt, in which the would-be soothsayer lays out his tech predictions for the year to come. Go out on a limb, he does not.

Mobile, you say? Wow, didn’t see that coming. Big data? Social? OK, now you’re just rattling off buzzwords from 2011. But hey, I think you forgot “hyperlocal,” didn’t you?

In Schmidt’s defense, he has made bolder predictions in past years — and, as The Verge’s Tom Warren notes, they didn’t pan out so well: http://bit.ly/1d1s6zs. Predictions are hard, especially about the future. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to stick to predicting things that have already happened.

But the most interesting soundbite, to me, is the one where Schmidt frankly admits — boasts, really — that Google profits from the decline of traditional industries, and prospers when the broader economy suffers. “Shockingly, even when things are tough in a country, because we have return-on-investment-based advertising, it’s smarter to move your advertising from others to Google,” Schmidt says, smiling crookedly. “So we win no matter whether the industries are in good shape or not, because people need our services.”

That might sound obvious, but careful observers will note it’s a different (and more honest) line than Google used to take when it came to disruption of traditional industries. I’m biased here, obviously, but I’ll never forget Marissa Mayer sitting in front of a roomful of print journalists and assuring them that Google had a stake in seeing them prosper: http://slate.me/1isf589. That was right around the time they all started losing their jobs. That probably wasn’t what Schmidt had in mind here — he’s talking more about how other types of traditional industries still have an interest in advertising on Google even when money’s tight. But the deeper truth here is that Google’s financial interests are not necessarily aligned with the health of the economy at large.

Google does many wonderful things, and the world is better off for its existence, but no one should be under the illusion at this point that it’s an entirely beneficent force in the marketplace. Rather, it’s in the business of creative destruction, and the hope is that it ultimately creates more than it destroys.

http://slate.me/18WgMru

Oremus is the lead blogger for Slate’s Future Tense, reporting on emerging technologies, tech policy and digital culture.

© 2013, Slate

You may be interested

Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Wednesday, September 23
Costa Rica
5485 views
Costa Rica
5485 views

Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Wednesday, September 23

Alejandro Zúñiga - September 23, 2020

Costa Rica announced 21 new coronavirus-related deaths over the last day for a total of 781, according to official data…

Costa Rica’s Playa Hermosa named as World Surfing Reserve
Costa Rica
11826 views
Costa Rica
11826 views

Costa Rica’s Playa Hermosa named as World Surfing Reserve

Alejandro Zúñiga - September 23, 2020

Save The Waves Coalition has named Playa Hermosa in Garabito, Puntarenas as a World Surfing Reserve (WSR), the non-profit announced…

Costa Rican Presidency makes its case for IMF loan
Costa Rica
833 views
Costa Rica
833 views

Costa Rican Presidency makes its case for IMF loan

Alejandro Zúñiga - September 23, 2020

The Costa Rican Presidency hopes to generate internal support before its planned negotiations for $1.75 billion from the International Monetary Fund…