First, the initial effect of the printing press was substituting Second Estate control in a First Estate framework; specifically, emerging nation-states formed state churches with the King as the head. That is a similar dynamic to many of these populist movements, which are nationalistic in nature.
Both Brexit and Trump explicitly call back to nostalgic views of national greatness, conveniently ignoring that neither movement would have been allowed a national voice in the time periods they aspire to. I suspect this adherence to the Second Estate nation-state framework is temporary. The first and most straightforward way is Facebook putting its thumb on the scale. This is largely being framed as aiding President Trump in particular, which is probably both true and also an unsurprising complaint from the Second Estate used to having monopoly control over fact-checking.
The broader issue is that the third concern and first concern are so clearly in direct opposition to each other. If Facebook has the potential for immense influence on politics, why on earth would anyone want the company policing political speech?
This question is even more meaningful than it seems. The other major news story of the past few weeks has been The China Cultural Clash. Zuckerberg referenced this in his speech:. China is building its own internet focused on very different values, and is now exporting their vision of the internet to other countries. Until recently, the internet in almost every country outside China has been defined by American platforms with strong free expression values.
A decade ago, almost all of the major internet platforms were American. Today, six of the top ten are Chinese. While our services, like WhatsApp, are used by protesters and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these protests are censored, even in the US. For some in the Second Estate , it appears to be an open question. And so we are back to China.
The fact of the matter is that the world is fundamentally changing, just as it did five hundred years ago. At the same time, that change will take time — the printing press was invented in Germany in and yet German unification did not happen until — and will be guided by choices we make along the way. The sooner we recognize that transformation is coming, the more readily we can reject authoritarian attempts to hold onto the world as it was, and create the world we want to see.
Creating tools that help you increase your knowledge, success, health, and happiness. Now when we apply that mission to hardware and services, it means creating products like…Pixel phones, wearables, laptops, and Nest devices for the home. Each one is thoughtfully and responsibly designed to help you day to day without intruding on your life.
Did you catch that? Apparently Google has a new mission — to bring a more helpful Google to you. Today our mission feels as relevant as ever, but the way we approach it is constantly evolving. We are moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done. They all share a single goal: to be helpful, so we can be there for you big and small over the course of your day. Like I said, boring and self-satisfied. In the mobile era, smartphones changed the world. Now you heard me talk about this idea with Baratunde, that helpful computing can be all around you — ambient computing.
Note how much better Google is placed than Facebook or Amazon, both of which I wrote about two weeks ago. The latter two companies are hindered by their lack of a smartphone, and their beachheads in the consumer space — Oculus and Alexa, respectively — are constrained by specialization in the case of Facebook and location in the case of Amazon.
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Ambient computing that goes away when you turn off a headset or leave your house is not truly ambient. Osterloh made this point:.
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The Google Assistant plays a critical role here. It pulls everything together and gives you a familiar, natural way to get the help you need. Interactions need to feel natural and intuitive. No matter what you are doing, you should be able to just say the name of the song and the music just plays without you having to pull out a phone and tap on screens or push buttons. Only companies with smartphone platforms can deliver the same experience everywhere. That is to say, only Google and Apple, and the latter seems to be barely trying in the home in particular.
This also explains why Google, despite being a Services company, is investing in hardware. When there is a performance gap — when product functionality and reliability are not yet good enough to address the needs of customers in a given tier of the market — companies must compete by making the best possible products. In the race to do this, firms that build their products around proprietary, interdependent architectures enjoy an important competitive advantage against competitors whose product architectures are modular, because the standardization inherent in modularity takes too many degrees of design freedom away from engineers, and they cannot not optimize performance.
To close the performance gap with each new product generation, competitive forces compel engineers to fit the pieces of their systems together in ever-more-efficient ways in order to wring the most performance possible out of the technology that is available. When firms must compete by making the best possible products, they cannot not simply assemble standardized components, because from an engineering point of view, standardization of interfaces meaning fewer degrees of design freedom would force them to back away from the frontier of what is technologically possible.
Rather, the integration that matters is between all of the various devices that exist in every part of your life — home, work, play, and everywhere-in-between — and the service that links them together. While the company has at times been drawn into the trap of prioritizing and differentiating Android with its services, the fundamental services nature of Google means that its ambient computing offering will leverage any OEM that wishes to take part, even Apple. Despite how well-placed Google is to execute on this vision, it is not a certainty that the company will win, for reasons both structural and also internal to Google itself.
First, the customers most likely to not only be interested in the idea of ambient computing but to also have the significant funds necessary to buy all of the various gadgets required to make it a reality probably use iPhones.
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Apple was the high-end integrated player in smartphones, and contra-Christensen , that was a sustainably large portion of the market. Google, meanwhile, was the modular player in smartphones, which meant it had the most affordable smartphone offerings and by far the largest marketshare.
The challenge the company faces is that its modular customer base is less likely to spend on the integrated solution that Google is selling. Second, while Siri will likely never reach the reliability and usability of Google Assistant — Apple has its own internal challenges — Apple continues to increase the switching cost from iPhone by doubling down on devices. AirPods are infinitely better than Pixel Buds in that they actually exist and have for three years, and the Apple Watch continues to grow strongly.
That may seem like a luxury, but in fact needing to succeed or die is one of the greatest advantages a company can have, particularly while trying to enter a new market. Google from its founding has succeeded simply by being better and letting the masses figure it out for themselves. It completely worked too: Google search was better than anything else on the market, and by virtue of being on the Internet it was immediately accessible to anyone anywhere on a zero marginal cost basis.
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The company struggles, though, when it has to actually sell something. Look no further than Google Cloud Platform, which is a distant third to Amazon which was first and Microsoft which can sell, particularly to existing customers. The challenges in ambient computing will be different given the differences between the consumer and enterprise markets, but no less significant: to succeed, particularly with its integrated offering, Google has to get better at all parts of the funnel, from initial awareness to education to conversion to channel to distribution to support.
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It is the selling, though, that truly requires dedication. The Global Times, a Chinese government-run English-language newspaper, stated in an editorial :. Earlier this year I wrote about the uneven playing field between the U. From China, Leverage, and Values :. For over a decade U. The truth is that the U.
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China relationship has been extremely one-sided for a very long time now: China buys the hardware it needs, and keeps all of the software opportunities for itself — and, of course, pursues software opportunities abroad. This understated the case: not only were Chinese companies allowed into the U. James Griffiths wrote about the attack on Github earlier this year :.
Why had China launched so public an attack, in such a blunt fashion? It was a message: a shot across the bow from the architects of the Great Firewall, who—having conquered the internet at home—were now increasingly taking aim overseas, unwilling to brook challenges to their system of control and censorship, no matter where they came from. The projects China was presumably targeting were Chinese versions of GreatFire.
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Given the importance of Github to software development, China could not block the site completely, so instead they tried to hold it hostage. It was a harbinger of what happened this week. The story about engagement with China, both in terms of the U. President Bill Clinton stated when the U. The change this agreement can bring from outside is quite extraordinary, but I think you could make an argument that it will be nothing compared to the changes that this agreement will spark from the inside out in China.
keymahorsearch.gq By joining the W. The more China liberalizes its economy, the more fully it will liberate the potential of its people — their initiative, their imagination, their remarkable spirit of enterprise. In the new century, liberty will spread by cell phone and cable modem. In the past year, the number of Internet addresses in China has more than quadrupled, from 2 million to 9 million.
This year the number is expected to grow to over 20 million. When China joins the W. We know how much the Internet has changed America, and we are already an open society. Imagine how much it could change China. Good luck! But I would argue to you that their effort to do that just proves how real these changes are and how much they threaten the status quo.