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Google at Davos

Stephanie Flanders | 23:33 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

When Google announced last week that Eric Schmidt would be standing down as Chief Executive, he tweeted that it was because "day to day adult supervision no longer needed" for the company's co-founders, Larry Page and Sergei Brin.

Page will take over the day to day running of the company, with Schmidt kicked upstairs, as Chairman. It was a flip comment - but curious. The general view in Silicon Valley these days is that Google is rather too grown up. What it needs to do is regain its youth.

When I interviewed him a few minutes ago, you will not be surprised to hear that Mr Schmidt rejected this criticism - and most of the others that I threw at him. Like the complaint that Google has become a copy-cat company - "scaling up" other people's ideas, rather than coming up with something new of their own. He also had no problem with the fact that Google still makes most of its money from search and advertising based on it. "The companies that raise this issue", he said smugly, "would kill to have our numbers."

But - he did accept that Google had been slow to engage with the social networking piece of the web (a polite way of saying that they missed entirely the most important development in the Internet in the last five years). Facebook, Twitter and others are so much more evident here in Davos than they were last year, when Mark Zuckerberg and the rest were still the new kids on the block and it was still possible for lowly folk like me to capture some of his time.

In the industry, it's an open secret that Google is livid with Facebook for poaching so many of their people. I asked Schmidt whether he was sad that relations between them had turned so bitter: weren't they supposed to be above this kind of thing? In his reply he protested just a bit too much: the way he told it, Google had barely noticed that their people had gone. And he couldn't help observing, moments later, that he was rather worried that social media like Facebook were threatening the openness of the web.

He also had some interesting things to say about Google's complex dealings with Germany and China - and their engagement with governments, regulators and lawyers around the world. He thinks he could spend as much as two thirds of his time dealing with all of that in his new job as Chairman. I wonder whether he ever finds time to spend any of his tremendous wealth.

Has-been? Visionary? Megalomaniac? All of the above? Watch the interview on Newsnight or BBC World, and decide for yourself.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Schmidt was placed into the company because the US authorities thought that Google would have extreme leverage in pushing (via subversion) the US's libertarian (fascist social democratic) agenda into China in a big way.

    It didn't work because China saw through it and simply banned Google.

    He was just made redundant.

    Simple as.

  • Comment number 2.

    It is just repeating what happened to Microsoft. It too seemed to have world domination but rather missed the boat with search engines. Google had world domination in the world of search engines and missed the boat with social media. Now Facebook and Twitter seem to have global domination but will probably miss the boat on the next clever idea.

    However, despite many attempts to challenge Microsoft, the world is still dominated by Windows, Word, Excel and the rest. Most people use Google . It has become the automatic choice of most when doing a search. But isn't the fact the world's search engine is not a Microsoft product a good thing. At least they are two companies and not one single even more powerful company. What if Facebook were Google company? Would that been seen as too much domination of the internet? And if that company were part of Microsoft?

    We are concerned by global banking giants and global mining or oil companies. The domination of some IT companies is greater than any bank or oil company. I think we have been lucky that these dominating companies missed the boat on the next new idea.

  • Comment number 3.

    The business editor seems to be talking economics and the Economics editor, business. Why is that?

    In any event, here's one for you Ms Flanders:
    Is Steve Keen right?
    Which comes first, fiat currency or debt money?
    What's your opinion?
    Steven Keen
    http://www.debtdeflation.com/blogs/2009/01/31/therovingcavaliersofcredit/




  • Comment number 4.

    You're right Dempster. Davos is a side show of mutual back slapping.

    I appreciate the Newsnight plug Stephanie, but like Dempster, I also have a question that I can't find an answer to.

    Why has the UK bought over $400 Billion of US debt over the past couple of years?

    Why are we increasing our holdings of US debt while everyone else, (apart from the US Fed of course), is decreasing their holdings?




  • Comment number 5.

    Megalomaniac - Yes.

    Anyone who uses the expression "would kill to have our numbers" is clearly a megalomaniac. Language is important. Using expressions such that imply or assert a desire to 'kill' is well down the slippery slope to justifying actual physical violence. Using the language of murder is never justified in business - ever! Indeed it is seldom justified in any other aspect of life. But never in business. The poverty of Eric Schmidt's language is I am afraid typical of the American people and why for example Sarah Palin chose to talk of a 'blood libel'. The American people must be recognised as far more extreme and dangerous that the rest of the moderate World recognises or gives due credit to. Their totally excessive use of the language of violence and murder is unacceptable.

    PS what is this to do with economics?

  • Comment number 6.

    Stephanie - I saw your interview on Google last night.

    It was interesting to see how easily CEO's become out of touch - his denial of everything put to him demonstrated that this is how CEO's think. They are unchallenged by their underlings and even when they're wrong - they're right!

    ...is it any wonder that bravado and hubris are rife amongst most CEO's?

    A lot can be explained by the personalities and their ego's. Just this morning I heard Bill Gates talking about philanthropy and it's merits and how this is different to Government spending.

    ....clearly Bill forgets every ounce of his wealth has come from the excess charge applied to his products over their cost value (profit) and that the source of this is the people themselves - or more accurately their labour.

    ...of course this wasn't picked on by the interviewer - it's a shame the media is now such a toothless windbag.

    2 things you need to be a successful capitalist.

    1) A very short memory and now recollection of history
    2) An intellect which doesn't allow you to think too hard about things - especially the source of your profit.

  • Comment number 7.

    It is a pity we are discussing such a topic when there are much more telling topics around.

    The fact that a number of the major financial institutions are now getting concerned about Euro-zone debt refinancing with JP Morgan even going on record at DAVOS. I have read and listened all to what he has said and find it very difficult for it is a very biased one sided point of view and protectionist around the banking sector. It was light on any substance around the consequences for the sovereign nations who may try and restructure and didn't even come close to any that may default.

    This was a warning shot fired across the bows of the Euro-zone from an industry who now feel invincible. "Too big to fail" or just too arrogant to now even considering failing as they feel we need them more than they need us!

    And what about the debt, well that just keeps on rising, just look at Greece who after the bail out and committing to reducing their deficit now have a debt of €321,723,352,043, that is €28,483 for every man, woman and child.... Along with this the Greeks personal debt has shown signs of rising although it is still well bellow that of Germany. However the average German has the ability to pay that debt down where the Greeks do not. The same can be said for all the PIIGS and many of the other Euro-zone member states. The problem is that their deficits are not just coming down and those who are deepest in debt appear to have the largest deficits which means that they are just on a downward spiral.

    So even if the Irish pass their Finance bill they will still need a stable goverment for the next ten or so years to start to tackle their problems. However as with most countries in this situation they are in the main still in denial.

    So for me the question is "United we stand" - "United we fall" or will it be "I'm all right jack". How far will the likes of the Germans go to support their beleaguered brothers before they say enough is enough and will this mean the end or the Euro experiment or will it mean just a smaller Euro-zone with a much more stable group of economies.

    The problems are still there and the vultures are still circling and unless some major decisions are taken they will continue to pick at what is becoming a decaying carcass.

  • Comment number 8.

    5. At 09:33am on 28 Jan 2011, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    Megalomaniac - Yes.

    Anyone who uses the expression "would kill to have our numbers" is clearly a megalomaniac. Language is important. Using expressions such that imply or assert a desire to 'kill' is well down the slippery slope to justifying actual physical violence. Using the language of murder is never justified in business - ever! Indeed it is seldom justified in any other aspect of life.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Betraying your age, John. Even at my advanced years (probably less than yours) I recognise the expression.

    Not megalomaniacism. It was 'Yoofspeek' and 'Whizzkidism' from about the late '80's/early '90's.

    Which reminds me. I was there then. Not quite youth and not quite whizz kid, but I was there. Schmidt was making a good realistic business point.

    And, in a kind, gentle way, pointing out that maybe Stephanie should have researched a little better, prepared a little more for the interview. {My issue is with para 4.}

    Look at the numbers.

    Hey! Let's be careful out there today.
    [ Thanks, John. ;-) ]

  • Comment number 9.

    How about a piece on what benefits we have seen flowing from the last Davos in 2010. Was anything achieved other than to emphasise the awfulness of the moneyed elite. Perhaps we could 'kill' for their numbers?

  • Comment number 10.

    I cannot remember who recently posted the link to Steve Keen’s website, I think it may have been Chris London.

    In any event Keen poses an interesting question:

    In the business of fractional reserve banking, which comes first the creation of fiat currency, subsequently used as deposits upon which banks can pyramid up loans, or as Keen suggests debt, which in turn creates deposits. In short create the debt first and worry about the deposits later.

    If Keen is correct, and the difference between debt and money rather suggests he is, then the UK government has absolutely no control over the money supply.

    Which in turn, does rather fit in with consummate boom and bust cycles we experience in this country.

    One thought which crosses my mind is the time frame.
    Currency is necessarily lost, for example notes are destroyed in a fire, and coins lost on a beach. Therefore some fiat currency must disappear every year, cumulatively over many years this may be considerable.

    In addition debt bears an interest penalty, so presumably at when one given time the amount of debt (if unsatisfied by payment of interest) may be greater than money.

    Whether the above represents a reasonable explanation of the large difference between debt and money I have absolutely no idea.

    And I caveat the above with: I’m neither economist nor monetary expert, I’m just curious.

  • Comment number 11.

    Dempster's posted link is worth reading if somewhat heavy going. It gets closer to the real world as I understand and experience. In relation to debts credit cards did not exist before or during the great depression but they give the ability to create debt money faster and bigger that was possible years ago. Is there just a 'turbo' effect or does it introduce a qualitatively different factor?

  • Comment number 12.

    #6 wotw
    "It was interesting to see how easily CEO's become out of touch - his denial of everything put to him demonstrated that this is how CEO's think. They are unchallenged by their underlings and even when they're wrong - they're right!"

    This is a very important point that deserves in-depth discussion. it is easy to ridicule CEOs in their sycophantic balloon worlds, but to them this is how the world works. Most of us have little power and have to learn how to negotiate, compromise and sometimes submit, in order to get the best for ourselves. Take this to the national scale and we have social classes and other interest groups negotiating, compromising and occasionally submitting in order to get the best deal for themselves, or even, given enlightened self-interest, the best deal for the nation/EU/world. We call this process politics.

    None of this occurs in the business world. Although there is a common fallacy that "we should put the best business leaders in charge" of the economy, their record in the real world of politics and economics is poor, verging on appalling. This is hardly surpising when the political model they rely on in business is most closely related to the fascist model than any other. When dealing with politics and economics they flounder, and often end up advocating the osrt of authoritsarian solutions that they would employ in their own businesses.

    It need not be so: rather than try and make the real world match the authoritarian world of business, with its democratic deficit; we can and should be modelling business democratically. This would entrench democracy more firmly within the rest of our society, and be more efficient and effective as this link shows:

    http://www.schneede.se/assets/files/Ricardo_Semler.pdf

    Most business wilfully throw away a huge proportion of the knowledge and skill that they contain through inefficient authoritarian command-and-control management methods. Those that harness the skills and knowledge of their workforces through democratic participation do better. And none of this would make it on to the agenda at Davos.

  • Comment number 13.

    I love this - Dempster is writing Stephanie's blog and getting no bites, while others debate language as delivered by Americans. I think the government sale of the Forestry Commission will end in tears and its probably all Google's fault?

  • Comment number 14.

    As you infer Stephanie: Google's strategic competences are still relatively narrow and it has pretty much 'missed' the boat on social-networking.
    However, I don't think anyone familiar with business history would be that surprised. There is plenty of empirical evidence to support the fact that the vast majority of start-ups fail to reach 'escape velocity' into becoming large successful companies. In fact well over 50% go bust within the first few years.
    However, it is often foregotten that amonsgst those that do reach 'escape velocity' which Google certainly achieved, a number of them end up as single product companies. By this I do not mean literally they only have one type of product, although this can happen, but rather that their prime revenue and profit streams come from their original winning idea. In other words, they are not necessarily as innovative as with their initial star performer.
    Take Microsoft. Clearly, the early company's success was due to its operating system MS-DOS/PC-DOS which displaced the early industry's standard operating system of CP/M-80 which had dominated the early 8-bit processors of microcomputers (the name of personal computers prior to IBM calling them PCs in the early 1980s). However, the fundamental ideas behind a Windows environment were initially popularised by Apple on its early (box) Mac, following its introduction on their Lisa machine. Yet even here, many of the concepts employed in the early Macs had been lifted from Xerox, in particular from its Star workstation, which used a mouse, a LAN based upon Ethernet (also developed by Xerox) and of course the GUI (Graphical User Interface), icons and files; however, this was aimed primarlity at the corporate marketplace.
    My point is that whilst Microsoft went on to become a phenomenally successful company with it Windows OS and Office suite, the original idea of Microsoft (MS-DOS/PC-DOS) was not followed by innovative ideas created at Microsoft. Rather, those ideas were born elsewhere and developed, improved upon (although not in relation to anything from Apple) and successfully commercialised.
    I should argue, that the early success of Microsoft was grounded in its unique position within the corporate environment where its was able to ride piggy-back on the power and brand of IBM, since it was the de-facto standard operating system for their PCs. Based upon this market position, the corporate world embraced Microsoft Windows long after it was available on Xerox and Apple machines, since Xerox suffered from internal political problems on its Office Products Division which produced the Star workstation and Apple was considered too expensive and more appropriate for the creative departments within corporations; furthermore, Apple lacked the corporate credentials in terms of sales force presence or brand name in this market.
    Similarly for the Office core suite of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. None of these products were essentially created in-house. Word was the product of ideas carried over from personnel who had previously worked at Xerox; Excel was based upon the world's first microcomputer based spreadsheet which was developed by Visicomputer and ran on the Apple II machines (non-GUI) called Visicalc, whilst PowerPoint was the product of a company which Microsoft bought. Some may remember that once upon a time, Lotus 1-2-3 ruled the corporate spreadsheet environment.
    Of course there are many other stories of Rising Starts that became cash cows but where the company never repeated the same trick. Xerox being a case in point.
    The business history world and high-tech as much as any is littered with the names of companies whose star has since long stopped shining. Digital Equipment Corporation (mini-computers) once the second largest computer company in the world, then taken over by Compaq, which in turn was taken over by HP. Wang Laboratories, once the world leader in word processors (pre-PCs). Sun Microsystems the dominant workstation player in the 80s and 90s and many more.
    In conclusion, Stephanie, when CEOs trumpet how great their company is relative to all comers, I say it is time to be careful about their future, particularly, when they seem incapable of demonstrating ongoing technological innovation. Of course, they can innovate at the margin, with incremental improvements to their core product. But the really great companies are those which continue to innovate in new product or service areas. That is why Apple, which on so many occasions in its history looked as if it were in permanent decline has been such an astounding story. Apple did not invent the personal computer (microcomputer); that accolade is held by MITS and its Altair machine in 1985. However, Apple did truly innovate with its Mac family (albeit it with many innovations from Xerox), then despite a vastly superior product to Microsoft Windows the Mac OS and Macs generally never captured the high-ground from Microsoft. After the dot.com bust, Apple shares tumbled along with most high-tech firms, regardless of whether they were a dot.com business. Many thought Apple might be over, except for the Apple evangelicals. But since then Apple has essentially reinvented itself by bringing the innovative iPod to market, followed by the increasingly ubiquitous iPhone. The industry leader in mobile phones, Nokia has been left standing in the dust when it comes to Smartphones.
    Of course, Apple may well be at its zenith: only time will tell. However, there are few companies which have exhibited the capability to reinvent themselves as effectively as Apple, especially in high-tech. Both Bill Gates in his days as head of Microsoft and Andy Grove when he headed Intel both publically acknowledged their recognition of threats to their competitive position. Any CEO who brags about their company's almost invincible position in a high-tech market is either myopic, ignorant, arrogant or just plain dumb or all of these things. There is a fine line between confidence based upon competence and arrogance based upon past glories. The best CEOs recognise that to remain at the top of the pile requires constant commercially successful innovations; the ingredients of which are not simply about building the best techology - although that helps.

  • Comment number 15.

    5. At 09:33am on 28 Jan 2011, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    Megalomaniac - Yes.

    Anyone who uses the expression "would kill to have our numbers" is clearly a megalomaniac.
    ......................................................................

    Dick Fuld the former CEO of Lehman Brother use to want to 'reach down peoples throats and rip out their hearts' Nice chap Old Dick, and the Lehman people wondered why the Fed didn't bail them out. Manners maketh man as they use to say.

  • Comment number 16.

    4. At 09:06am on 28 Jan 2011, Elduderino01 wrote:

    "Why are we increasing our holdings of US debt while everyone else, (apart from the US Fed of course), is decreasing their holdings?"

    Two words - "Special relationship"

  • Comment number 17.

    12. At 11:52am on 28 Jan 2011, Co-operateordie

    I couldn't agree more with your sentiments. When the Government and corporations merge it seems the Government adopts the system of corporations (totalitarian).

    This does not bode well for Democracy as in case everyone hasn't noticed - but our Government is 'owned' by big business through debt. A situation which has occured thanks to the ever declining productivity of Capitalism which increases the need for state provision and therefore the need for borrowings.

  • Comment number 18.

    3. At 08:39am on 28 Jan 2011, Dempster

    An excellent article - and my favourite paragraph is this:

    "Ten years ago, a quote from Marx would have one deemed a socialist, and dismissed from polite debate. Today, such a quote can (and did, along with Charlie’s photo) appear in a feature in the Sydney Morning Herald—and not a few people would have been nodding their heads at how Marx got it right on bankers."

    ...and still this goes on today - the labelling of people as 'socialist' like it's some form of disease simply because you're quoting Marx - who happens to be right on a number of things which shoot giant holes through the Capitalists arguments of freedom and choice.

    Most people who dismiss Marx have never read his work - I saw how Mises summed up Marxism in one of his books - he used about 3 lines and basically said 'The idea of surplus value is nonsense and should be dismissed'.

    That was it - the lifetimes work of analysis of Capitalism summirarily dismissed without any real critique of the arguments.

    ...and here we are...everythign Marx said about Capitalism is coming to bear - even though the rantings of Friedman and the Chicago boys was broadcast around the world - they have been totally wrong about free markets providing anything they claimed they would...in fact all they have done is created an even larger public sector to protect us from their profiteering - which of course feeds back into greater taxes.

    We could simply save time and allow the corporations to tax us directly.

  • Comment number 19.

    14. At 11:57am on 28 Jan 2011, Straightalk

    An insightful history of Microsoft and rather accurate as I remember it. Once agai history has been 'retrospectively altered' in order to present the final 'wealthy man' at the helm of invention (in order to justify profits)....whereas actually the truth is somewhat different....

    http://www.patersontech.com/dos/micronews/paterson04_10_98.htm

    A second point to make is how Microsoft epitomises the path of Capitalism, DOS was originally QDOS which stands for "a quick and dirty operating system" - cheap to make and limited.

    Capitalism meant that this product was more successful through price - which impacted the rise of Apple (as you pointed out) - what many people don't realise is that in recent years Microsoft have moved towards a UNIX based operating system underlying the system - a much more secure and stable operating system - which was available I believe when QDOS was created.

    So basically the reason windows always crashed is because they went for the cheapest option available - the cost savings produced wonderful profits at the inconvenience of the customer.

    This is why most people who work in IT have a dislike of Microsoft, we could have had much more stable and much more secure computers had Microsoft not pushed their costs onto the customers experience.

    I worked at a bank where their UNIX servers had never even needed a reboot in 5 years - there is no Windows system which can compete and this bank actually had a weekly restart for all the windows servers in order to provide some semblence of stability.
    In addition most people don't realise that the reason you are so vulnerable to hacks and attacks on Windows is because the user has access to the operating system - not a feature on UNIX thereby making it more secure and ensuring it doesn't need half the patches windows does.

    The world was ripped off and once again they didn't even know it.

  • Comment number 20.

    15. At 12:11pm on 28 Jan 2011, AudenGrey wrote:

    "Dick Fuld the former CEO of Lehman Brother use to want to 'reach down peoples throats and rip out their hearts' Nice chap Old Dick, and the Lehman people wondered why the Fed didn't bail them out. Manners maketh man as they use to say."

    ...yeah but when your first name is 'Dick' - then you're bound to have some pent up aggression...

  • Comment number 21.

    #8. Up2snuff wrote:

    #5. John_from_Hendon wrote: Megalomaniac - Yes.

    No. just yoofspeak...
    "

    Up2 you are wrong. Words mean things. Killing is killing. Can you be so unaware of the real meaning of language that you accept that killing people is OK - NO it is not. If the society you are describing is a real reflection of today then we must oppose it. You sound like the video game culture which disassociates violence from reality - violence is real and dangerous. Sara Plain's use of 'blood libel' was a direct reference to the early Christian condemnation of the Jews for murdering Jesus - this is an inescapable fact - if you and your fellow travellers are so ill-informed they are ignorant of the association then I pity you.

    If yookspeak has declined to such a point that people become just piles of meat to be disposed of when anyone wants to then the society that you, and they, have created will be harsh and brutish and it must be opposed by all sentient people - killing people is wrong - Do you want to be killed? Does it matter to you to be dead?

  • Comment number 22.

    We're a twinkle in someone's eye, we're born, we grow, we breed and start new hives, we die.

    Death can be a long drawn out process, depending on the medicine and surgery invoked.

  • Comment number 23.

    10. At 11:07am on 28 Jan 2011, Dempster wrote:
    If Keen is correct, and the difference between debt and money rather suggests he is, then the UK government has absolutely no control over the money supply.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    You raise an interesting point, in the light of Davos and the age of internationally mobile capital.

  • Comment number 24.

    18. At 1:00pm on 28 Jan 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:
    We could simply save time and allow the corporations to tax us directly.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    That’s an interesting concept, I wonder in the case of banking at least, how far we are actually from it.


  • Comment number 25.

    Speaking of bankers at Davos - this is totally unbelievable!

    As I mentioned yesterday - HE WAS THERE - THE LAST TIME THE WORLD ECONOMY NEARLY COLLAPSED!!!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12295834

    How can he even utter these words?
    "Don't be accusatory of us," Mr Sarkozy replied. "We will be reasonable, but we will be wise."

    WISE? WISE? - YOU WERE THERE DIMON - IN THE ROOM WITH THE OTHERS - BAILING OUT LTCM - YOU KNOW THIS IS SOMETHING THAT CANNOT BE CONTROLLED.

    This is scandalous - why is this man allowed to reject history in this way? HE WAS THERE!!!

    For goodness sake - what is to be done to rid ourselves of these lying bankers and totally banal media who should be pointing these inconsistencies out?

    Stephanie - get and interview with Dimon and ask him why he's forgotten that day in 1998 in the Fed, it's causes and it's consequences. Never mind this google schlek, he's just some internet geek who got lucky. Dimon is at the heart of global capitalism - as are JPM and they are literally getting away with robbery.

    "Reuters reported that the heads of some of the world's biggest financial firms, including Mr Dimon, later met at a private fringe meeting to discuss issues facing their industry, including the eurozone debt crisis. "

    No conspiracy here then.

    Someone please bring me a journalist who knows what their job is....

  • Comment number 26.

    15. At 12:11pm on 28 Jan 2011, AudenGrey wrote:
    5. At 09:33am on 28 Jan 2011, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    Megalomaniac - Yes.

    Anyone who uses the expression "would kill to have our numbers" is clearly a megalomaniac.
    ......................................................................

    Dick Fuld the former CEO of Lehman Brother use to want to 'reach down peoples throats and rip out their hearts' Nice chap Old Dick, and the Lehman people wondered why the Fed didn't bail them out. Manners maketh man as they use to say.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Another saying I recall from the '80's (but of earlier origin?):
    "Get them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow."

    Can't remember who said it, but I think that particular one is definitely US military in origin. I am sure some 'leaders' (political/bureaucratic/business) have adopted it as a motto.

    For a while.

  • Comment number 27.

    21. At 1:33pm on 28 Jan 2011, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    #8. Up2snuff wrote:

    #5. John_from_Hendon wrote: Megalomaniac - Yes.

    No. just yoofspeak...
    "

    Up2 you are wrong. Words mean things. Killing is killing.
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    No metaphor? No analogy? No similes? No expressions? No jokes, even?

    What sort of world do you live in?

  • Comment number 28.

    13. At 11:53am on 28 Jan 2011, Datvires wrote:
    I love this - Dempster is writing Stephanie's blog and getting no bites, while others debate language as delivered by Americans. I think the government sale of the Forestry Commission will end in tears and its probably all Google's fault?
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nah! It's gotta be Lola's .....

    ;-)

    [Quiet day at the office, obviously?]

  • Comment number 29.

    12. At 11:52am on 28 Jan 2011, Co-operateordie wrote:
    #6 wotw
    "It was interesting to see how easily CEO's become out of touch - his denial of everything put to him demonstrated that this is how CEO's think. They are unchallenged by their underlings and even when they're wrong - they're right!"
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Here's some thoughts for discussion:
    US business practice is different to the UK but not as much as it used to be.
    It's a slightly more ruthless culture than in the UK.
    Trust me on this: Schmidt has a lot of people after his job in the US.
    He gets challenged.
    Possibly on an almost daily basis.

  • Comment number 30.

    25. At 1:49pm on 28 Jan 2011, writingsonthewall
    "Reuters reported that the heads of some of the world's biggest financial firms, including Mr Dimon, later met at a private fringe meeting to discuss issues facing their industry, including the eurozone debt crisis. "
    ---------------------------------------------------------

    Where is the line between "to discuss issues facing their industry", which may be fair enough, and illegal collusion to create anti-competitive practices?

  • Comment number 31.

    18. At 1:00pm on 28 Jan 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:
    We could simply save time and allow the corporations to tax us directly.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bank tax
    The total gross government debt measured on the Maastricht basis is expected to be:
    *£1155bn
    *Source office of national statistics

    Now assuming investors ultimately want a yield of 1% above RPI inflation similar to index linked saving certificates (4.8% + 1%).

    Then Bank tax would be £115bn x 5.8% = £67bn.
    Which assuming GDP is £1400bn is 4.8% (tax).

  • Comment number 32.

    10 Dempster,
    "If Keen is correct, and the difference between debt and money rather suggests he is, then the UK government has absolutely no control over the money supply."

    This is absolutely true. The banks lend to anyone they deem credit worthy - this automatically creates a deposit, and the banks obtain reserves overnight from the BoE if necessary at a small cost (the discount rate). The mainstream theory called "Money Multiplier" tries to characterise the BoE as having control of the money supply via this discount rate, but it is wrong for the reasons you have found.

    If you want to know where people obtain the interest necessary to pay back their loan, a small proportion comes from others defaulting on their loans - hence this money is still circulating for others to aquire. A much larger proportion comes from the fact that YOY banks normally lend out more than they receive back, effectively increasing the money supply - though this is clearly unsustainable in the long run.

    The campaign to give government back some control of the mone supply rather than simply net lending by banks, should be about getting the government to pass laws so they can deficit spend without issuing government debt £-for-£ to match. At the same time having proper controls over banks lending. "Unfinanced" deficit spending would thus provide the money necessary for people to pay the interest on their loans, as well as creating full employment and other public purpose.

    I would say to all you anti "debt-money" campaigners, this is the proper way to frame the argument as what Modern Monetary Theory is actually based on how our monetary system actually works and is therefore simple and viable.

  • Comment number 33.

    #19 Writingsonthewall...

    "In addition most people don't realise that the reason you are so vulnerable to hacks and attacks on Windows is because the user has access to the operating system - not a feature on UNIX..."

    Surely, to use an operating system you have to have access to it? How can you use something to which you don't have any access? Or is UNIX an operating system that no-one uses?

  • Comment number 34.

    Writingsonthewall, instead of posting pointless rantings on this blog, if you really do know as much as you appear to say you do, why aren't you at Davos making everyone listen to you?

  • Comment number 35.

    #33 edge540
    "Surely, to use an operating system you have to have access to it? How can you use something to which you don't have any access? Or is UNIX an operating system that no-one uses?"

    It is not the user who has access to Windows, it is Microsoft. My understanding is that Windows is proprietorial, they keep their code secret to all except licensed developers (and ingenious hackers). This means that any patches or upgrades have to be installed remotely by Microsoft via small progerammes called macros. Hackers know this so once they have cracked the Windows coding it is easy to design macros (viruses, worms or trojans), which fool your computer into thinking it is a genuine Microsoft patch, and therefore can control your computer. Open-source systems such as Linux don't need to be remotely controlled, and usually need to be directly instructed therefore it is much more difficult to design malware which can cause harm. That is why almost all (by a factor of thousands) malware is designed to hijack Windows systems, that and the fact that most libertarian hackers hate Windows because it is proprietorial.

    Apple, by making source code freely available, has been able to benefit from millions of programmers designing "apps" for their iPhone and iTablet.

    I'm not a programmer but a keen supporter of Open-Source, and that is my understanding of the situation.

  • Comment number 36.

    33. At 3:24pm on 28 Jan 2011, edge540 wrote:

    "Surely, to use an operating system you have to have access to it? How can you use something to which you don't have any access? Or is UNIX an operating system that no-one uses?"

    UNIX is installed under a system account to which the user has no access. This is why you don't really get viruses on Mac's - a virus can only do what the user account allows (i.e. whoever opens the nude pictures of Anna Kornikova link). With windows this is different - that's why you can easily delete vital system files in windows causing big problems (or a virus can do it for you)

    If you're on windows vista or above, you're already using a UNIX derivative I believe - this was when Microsoft finally recognised the folly of their ways....but strangely not so well publicised...!

  • Comment number 37.

    29. At 1:59pm on 28 Jan 2011, Up2snuff wrote:

    "Trust me on this: Schmidt has a lot of people after his job in the US."

    A lot of people are after my job - but I don't act like a banker because of it - I just see it as complimentary.

    I actually welcome competition for my job, it means I can pass what I have learnt to another and move on to bigger and better things (or more rewarding / interesting)

    Only those who fear their own inadequacies resort to nastiness in order to protect their position. It's a bit like how corporations behave to challenging small businesses - in a reversal of free market theory.

    Take any major high street bank - they're not great because they are good at what they do - they make sure they suppress the competition so they remain unchallenged.....a similar ideal by which the CEO's behave - making the machine follow the action of the man.

  • Comment number 38.

    The gold old boys at the good old boys club in Davos think top down. It appears to me that the current batch of talking heads economists think top down. The stats that politicians, policy wonks and advisors use are top down.

    Bottom up thinking is generally missing. Bottom up thinking enables anyone with a calculator and an ability to press the add, minus, multiply, divide and equals key to work out that the top down narrative regurgitated by the good old boys is a story not so far different from The Emperor's New Clothes.

    I don't need google or a mobile phone. I could manage without a PC though much of what I do woud take longer. I can turn the heat down or off. I can walk rather than use the car or public transport. I can pay off debt rather than incur more. I could buy a huge stock of incandescent light bulbs or buy basic white candles or turn the lights off or buy cfl lightbulbs once every five years. I could drink less wine and drink more water from the tap. I could (if I try hard) buy hard soap that lasts for ages rather than 'value added, creamy, watery' shower gel. We could make the car last longer. I don't need a flu jab or statins. I could go to the library. I could live more simply.

    Each one of us in the affluent groups across the world can do the same. Indeed, we have been exhorted to consider our use of resources. We have been asked or forced to buy 'different', new, fashion. Fashion is created for us - digital this or that, electric cars, green initiatives, health scares.

    What is never considered was that we might stop buying or that we might have to buy or consume less. That we'd be maxed out or have all we ever needed and that our closets would be so stuffed to the gunnels that we couldn't stockpile anything more.

    What was never considered was that we might need to focus our expenditure on shelter, food or water or utilities - that the people might actually say 'enough already' or have that forced upon them that the well was sucked dry, as it were.

    Go back to the bottom and you can see that all the men on the Clapham Omnibuses need work. They need real work making brooms or pots or kettles for their neighbours - that markets need to be local to maximise work - that prices need to reflect this. Governments can't provide all the work and outsourcing and ofshoring diminishes the work available in your own neck of the woods. Neither business nor government can continue to borrow to provide or re-distribute the work. Indeed the good old boys aren't very interested in the concept of work for their immediate neighbours or paying wages that enable their neighbours to buy the goods and services they need here or elsewhere in the world.

    I suppose, from a top down perspective, one might ask why should we worry about the 350 million europeans and 350 million americans when there are billions of others that need work?

    Well, I'd say that's the real question and on that the good old boys are left exposed. Their vernacular, their narrative does not exist. They either cannot or will not see that their dependency on those that might have consumed ridiculous quantities of goods or services supplied by government or business using borrowed units of exchange is not sustainable.

    Those at the bottom can or have to withdraw their support, go back to basics, start again, support a new team or a new supplier or a new fat controller, move, seek new pastures and opportunities, follow the latest fad or fashion, graze somewhere else.

    Whilst politicians, that could change the environment, continue to peddle the story like good courtiers nothing can change. Until they get out of their rarified air at the top and look at the bottom nothig will change. Until they stop closeting themselves with 'movers and shakers' or being dazzled by access to wealth or fame nothing will change. Until they are prepared to challenge the top down conventional wisdoms peddled by the wonks nothing will change. Until the media stop aiding and abetting the whole process by regurgitating press releases from vested interests without question or analysis or interviewing those with a vested interest in the status quo, nothing will change except the physical form of the emporer

    Plus ca change. Plus ca meme chose.


  • Comment number 39.

    31. At 2:23pm on 28 Jan 2011, Dempster

    I can't believe you bothered to work that out! - well done for excellent dilligence (do you fancy a job on the lloyds takeover board?)

    There's our answer then - lets just pay taxes to banks directly which will have the benefits of:

    1) We cut out the middleman (Government)
    2) We can see what lavish offices and buildings are bought with our taxes
    3) We can throw the money at the 'tax collector' and swear at them showing our displeasure
    4) We can get personal financial advise at the same time
    5) We'll probably reduce the velocity of money which will send the monetarists into a tizzy


    ...sounds like a perfect plan to me...

  • Comment number 40.

    34. At 3:29pm on 28 Jan 2011, edge540 wrote:

    "Writingsonthewall, instead of posting pointless rantings on this blog, if you really do know as much as you appear to say you do, why aren't you at Davos making everyone listen to you?"

    ...because people who know what they're talking about aren't invited. They embarrass the wealthy with their undeniable logic and cause a rumpuss amongst the self-appointed elite.

    You may think they're pointless rantings, but then maybe you don't yet understand how all this is connected. I presume you haven't made the link between the credit crunch in 2008 and (soon to be) uncontrollable inflation now?

    I was making this link over a year ago in some other 'rant' - what were you doing?

  • Comment number 41.

    Coming to this thread somewhat late, it is interesting to see how the posts have splintered.

    I have to agree with WOTW in #18 when he said "Most people who dismiss Marx have never read his work". However, he then goes on to say posters are labled 'socialist' for quoting him - when in fact most European socialists disavow marxists theory. This is just one of the strange mis-associations that we commonly make.

    Marxism is attacked primarilly because to enact it you also have to esatblish a different political doctrine. On the other hand, Libaterianism and Economic Liberalism (with their core credo calling for the limitation or erradication of the state) appear to find more acceptance in the country that now promotes itself as the bastion of parliamentary democracy (52 state administrations under federal control). Keynesian economics is now considered to be essentialyy socialist in nature. If you read the introduction to the General Theory you will find that Keynes goes to some length to dispel that myth and his politics and actions prove him not to be a socialist. I'm not really sure where you can actually place Milton Friedman - apart from wrong :) - perhaps attach his theories to financial corporatism? So even in economic theory we have strange interaction of opinions which prejudice our viwepoints.

    The same can be said for CEOs. We only really hear about them when they appear to make statements regarding their organisations that conflict with popular opinion or make pronouncements outside of their coprorate sphere. If they truly have any particular expertise then it rests within their organisations and at a corporate level. Bolland may be a good head of M&S but he is no more a fashion retailer than I am a professional footballer. Phillip Green may have made his reputation on the High Street but he knows no more than you or I about running public services. It is our own stupidity in allowing ourselves to be believe that they have greater insight into economics or politics. Some may even question their ability to run organisations!

  • Comment number 42.

    Writingsonthewall...

    "I was making this link over a year ago in some other 'rant' - what were you doing?"

    Reading it probably :)

    BTW, you need an admin/root account to install any o/s, whether Windows, UNIX/Linux or System 11. A good point that can be made here is that the default Admin account that is created when you install Windows on your home PC should never be used except where necessary to upgrade/modify the o/s as necessary. Create a separate account without Admin privileges for general use. You can check which accounts have what privileges from the Control Panel Users applet. You do need to be logged-on as Admin to change them though.

  • Comment number 43.

    42. At 5:00pm on 28 Jan 2011, edge540 wrote:

    "BTW, you need an admin/root account to install any o/s, whether Windows, UNIX/Linux or System 11. A good point that can be made here is that the default Admin account that is created when you install Windows on your home PC should never be used except where necessary to upgrade/modify the o/s as necessary. Create a separate account without Admin privileges for general use. You can check which accounts have what privileges from the Control Panel Users applet. You do need to be logged-on as Admin to change them though."

    ...not with the original windows versions - anyone who was logged on could delete system files and run system commands. UNIX operates a system shell which is seperated from the user shell. New versions of windows now do this (as they follow UNIX) - but they didn't before.

    There is a big difference between setting security and admin access within an O/S.
    Did you never wonder why all the major viruses never affected MAC's or UNIX systems - but always windows?

    Find an IT security expert in the pub tonight (there's always one in there on a friday night) and he (or she) will be only too happy to explain it all in detail...

  • Comment number 44.

    "This is my blog for discussion of the UK economy, how it relates to the rest of the world, and how it affects us all."

    Plugs for interviews with Google?

    What is happening in the UK? Falls in consumer confidence, trouble in our housing market before we get to North African riots....But no mention here.

  • Comment number 45.

    No one will ever dyson the stairs carpet.

    Hoover didn't invent the vacuum cleaner and Google didn't invent the internet search engine but both have secured their place within their respective industries by providing a product that people want to use.

    Advertising revenue at Google will rise and fall in time with the economy. Such is the world of advertising. If I had his numbers I'd be somewhat smug.

    Googles core business has been so successful that they have been able to branch out into e-mail, navigation, operating systems, etc. They have additional revenue streams to soften the blow of current and future economic downturns. Reasons to be smug.

    In my humble opinion, Facebook and Twitter are fads. Tomorrow there will be a new and therefore more interesting way for people to waste their time.

    If all of the companies above were to go under, you could clean the stairs with a dust pan and brush and if you want to find something on the web you can always ask geeves. Yahoo, the sun will still rise tomorrow morning!

    Not the most relevant blog today Stephanie. Davos a bit dull today eh? (I don't mean to harsh. I love your blog.)

    Given the amount of people providing off topic comments it would seem that many others agree.

    Fractional reserve banking seems to be the topic of the day. It's good to see that the word is spreading and that people are starting to ask the right questions. Time for the mainstream media to take up the issue?

    Best be quick Stephanie before we all fall back into the old habit of hanging on in quiet desperation (thanks Pink Floyd).

    The people need a voice and without one this will just turn out to be another way we used to waste our time.

    Scutifer

  • Comment number 46.

    This Google story is a real kop out?
    Where is the British version of Google going to come from?

  • Comment number 47.


    It is a good way of expression.

    And I hope that you do convey the message of right.

  • Comment number 48.

    On the subject of the economy and what our leaders are planning to do, did anyone see Will Self on Question Time last night? A question regarding the latest GDP figures asked if it was OK to use bad weather as an excuse. This was his answer...

    "I think it's a bit lame really of the Chancellor to appeal to bad weather to dig him out of this one. It's a bit lame of all of us to appeal to bad weather to dig us out of this one. The systemic problems with our economy remain what they have been since 2008.

    We have a quasi-nationalised banking system, that won't admit that it's quasi-nationalised. We have legislators that remain, on the whole, poodles of bankers and are unable to get their act together to think about how to systemically deal with it. And we have a political class in general...who can't get it together to think what we do next.

    We've had the 'there is no more cycle of boom of bust' and then we've had a big bust...the kind of problems that we faced with this system have not really been fundamentally addressed. And so we're going to have this fetishisation of % points, have we got growth etc.

    What are we waiting to get going again? Are we waiting for a property asset bubble to get going so we can all max out on our credit cards? Are we waiting for the bankers to make loads more money with their fancy, weird borrowing from each other and making money on it? Are we waiting for that so we can get tax receipts up so we can spend them on our beloved public services that don't seem to have been running very well anyway because the schools are beginning to fall down?

    What's the plan guys, what's the plan?"

    A very succint summary of the situation I thought and one which made Chris Huhne squirm in his seat, as if he was thinking "we've been rumbled". Being a politician he of course managed to divert responsibility, saying their plan may not be very good but at least they have one, unlike the opposition. The truth is that they don't have a plan because as Will Self said, they are poodles of the bankers. The bankers have a plan, but it's not to help the average man on the street, it's to continue making massive bonuses and stick two fingers up to the rest of us.

  • Comment number 49.

    Whilst the free-market movers and shakers gather for another round of expensive lunches and meaningless talk, there is yet more fake surprise at the state of the UK economy, this time from a "GfK NOP Social Research" report (no, I've never heard of them either).

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12306336

    The story begins with...

    "The confidence of UK consumers in the economy and their finances has suffered its biggest monthly drop in 16 years, a survey has suggested. Rising VAT was a key factor behind the "astonishing" confidence fall..."

    Yet again, such news is presented as "astonishing". I suppose at least it makes a change from "shocking", "surprising" or "unexpected". If these people were genuinely astonished that UK consumers are lacking confidence I have to ask what on earth have they been doing for the last 2 years?

    A 20% slash in public services. A million public sector job losses expected and maybe half as many in the private sector. Rising energy and food prices with inflation in essential goods close to 10%. VAT up to 20%. A government whose sole apparent aim is to protect bankers at the expense of ordinary people. What did they expect - crowds of people dancing in the streets?

    Of course, they may not be astonished at all, they may just be faking it in an attempt to pretend it's just another blip and normal service will soon be resumed. Surely they wouldn't lie to us, would they?

  • Comment number 50.

    #14 >> I agree with most of your arguments. However, there are some point that I'd dispute.

    1) Altair 8800 was invented in 1975, not 1985. Also, it was not a "manufactured" product since it came in kit form !!

    2) Visicalc was developed by Software Arts, later renamed Visicorp. It could not run properly (business-wise) on the bog-standard Apple II microcomputer with "only" 48Kb and, so, it spawned a side industry in add-on memory boards bringing the total memory (RAM) to a staggering 64 Kb !! I know this because I owned/used one in my wild and woolly youth !!

    3) The industry leader in "mobile" phones used to be Motorola because they had a head-start in brick-shaped and -weight "mobile" phones !! Nokia and Ericsson came much later !!

    Continuing your argument, Sony was almost unheard of outside of Japan or East Asia until they came up with their Walkman. They then innovated into the Diskman and various other products, including the Sony-Ericsson mobile phones, the first music playing mobile phone. They are now into HD and OLED TVs and may produce a 3D TV.

    Thinking fast on their feet and innovating is the only way for large companies to survive into the future and "democratically-run" companies will spend far more time arguing over a concept than actually doing the R&D and bringing the product to market !!

    A tiny, not-often-heard-of Singapore company was started with S$5,000 borrowed from the founder's father. It went on to carve a major market share in PC add-on sound cards and then to give Apple a good run for its money in the MP3/MP4 markets. The company is Creative Technologies and the founder is now, shall we say, comfortable well-off. (Please God, did you hear that ?? Can I be as "comfortably well-off", too ??)

  • Comment number 51.

    #22 >>Death can be a long drawn out process, depending on the medicine and surgery invoked.

    And oft-times, in between, we wish that to ground would open and swallow us up whole, but that another tale..... :-)

  • Comment number 52.

    #26 >>Another saying I recall from the '80's (but of earlier origin?):
    "Get them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow."

    Can't remember who said it, but I think that particular one is definitely US military in origin. I am sure some 'leaders' (political/bureaucratic/business) have adopted it as a motto.


    Sorry about this history lesson but although this saying was attributed to LBJ, it was, I believe, a retort to a British offer to advise the Americans on how to handle a guerrilla war in Vietnam. The British had just successfully fought a war against the Communist guerrillas in (then) Malaya using the strategy of "hearts and minds" and they offered their advice to the Americans. Some American general or other (believed to be Abrams), decided otherwise and the rest, as they say, is history !!

  • Comment number 53.

    #38 >>What is never considered was that we might stop buying or that we might have to buy or consume less.

    God forbid !! Where will the next multi-billionaires come from ?? :-)

  • Comment number 54.

    #41 >>However, he then goes on to say posters are labled 'socialist' for quoting him - when in fact most European socialists disavow marxists theory. This is just one of the strange mis-associations that we commonly make.

    So very true !! Marx is more misunderstood by omission than by commission !! Few are willing to plough through two(or more) large, dust-dry tomes on economic theory and practice (unless they are forced to) !!

    >>Marxism is attacked primarilly because to enact it you also have to esatblish a different political doctrine.

    Actually, Marxism is attacked because the Soviets hijacked it to justify their revolution and most people in the West are too lazy to make a distinction between them and real Marxism !! Not that different from those who hijack religions to justify their actions !!

    Meanwhile, back at the server farm, there are other search engines that ARE making headway against Google and that's what is scaring them silly !!

    FUD - Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt - a good IBM invention. That's probably what this Google chappie is trying for !!

  • Comment number 55.

    #46 >>This Google story is a real kop out?
    Where is the British version of Google going to come from?

    The US of A ?? Just click on the Options button and set Language to English-United Kingdom. Oops, sorry, you mean a home-brewed thingie, don't you ?? :-)

    Why must Britain, with 60 million people, re-invent everything that anyone else in the world invents ??

  • Comment number 56.

    #49 Be glad that they didn't use words alike "Earth-shaking" or "ground-breaking" !! I remember reading about a "ground-breaking" American prototype aeroplane that crash !! I thought that was a rather appropriate use of those words !!

  • Comment number 57.

    Hi Ishkander

    You're either for, againt or indifferent about 'monopolies' ... particularly giant sized ones like Google.

    Perhaps you're happily indifferent to having Google pushed onto your PC every day ... and almost every web page that you open on your PC - some of us are now Google weary and would like to see more innovation, competition and choice ... and it be British... as if UK plc are incapable of competing on the internet.

    How is the the non-stop global Google lecture at Davros doing? - Obviously very well!

    Happy Googling!

  • Comment number 58.

    55. At 03:52am on 29 Jan 2011, ishkandar wrote:

    #46 >>This Google story is a real kop out?
    Where is the British version of Google going to come from?

    Why must Britain, with 60 million people, re-invent everything that anyone else in the world invents ??
    .................
    Britain must compete and take market share ... it's a 'growth' thingey idea - its what happened to Britain's historic dominant global trading positions ... Britain has lost all of its ground I (in some areas) to the competition ... stealing of our ideas, patents, flight of capital, 'brain drain', lack of govt vision, strategy, lack of corporate and other R and D/innovation, investment and strategic protectionism etc.

    Many of those who think this cannot be done have been and are still running the UK establishment machine; govt, civil service, banks, monopolies, multi-nationals etc

  • Comment number 59.

    BTW .. have any British companies actually made it to Davros - or have our banks advised them to stay away?

  • Comment number 60.

    59 Yes they did!

    http://www.economywatch.com/india-in-davos/top-sustainable-companies.html

    UK announced as the world leader in sustainable companies! i.e that is where we lead Germany and the rotw?

  • Comment number 61.

    60 ... No we're not!

    http://www.global100.org/list.html

    Unfortunately, UK has now slipped from the top global spot in terms of 'sustainability' ... but is still ahead of e.g. Germany?

  • Comment number 62.

    #57 >>Hi nautonier,

    Hi Ishkander

    You're either for, againt or indifferent about 'monopolies' ... particularly giant sized ones like Google.

    Perhaps you're happily indifferent to having Google pushed onto your PC every day ... and almost every web page that you open on your PC -

    I'm not at all happy with any monopoly but then Google is *NOT* a monopoly in any shape, form or manner !! There are many other search engines in the world; it's just that far too many people are too lazy to search for them and/or use them.

    >>...some of us are now Google weary and would like to see more innovation, competition and choice ... and it be British... as if UK plc are incapable of competing on the internet.

    As for UK Plc being incapable of competing on the internat or elsewhere, it's quite true, I'm afraid because, although the Brits are quite good at innovation, they seems to simply lack the ability, persistence and/or the knowledge to take a product to market and fight for a share of it !! How often have things been invented/discovered in Britain only for someone else to take it to market and sweep it ??

    Take computers (them thingies that you are using now) for example. The first was build at Betchley Park and who swept the market with them big boxes ?? IBM, that who !!

    >>How is the the non-stop global Google lecture at Davros doing? - Obviously very well!

    As I said earlier, Google is running scared. They missed the boat in the Chinese market by being very arrogant and are now trying to spread FUD to cover up their mistake. They are also trying to prevent other search engines from capitalising on their mistake, Ask Jeeves, for instance !! Hence all that blah, blah in Davos !! If you are truly tired of Google, try Ask Jeeves or any other search engines !!

  • Comment number 63.

    #60 & 61 >>nautonier

    Are you practicing for the panto season ?? Yes, we are; no we aren't !! :-)

  • Comment number 64.

    #58 >>Britain must compete and take market share ... it's a 'growth' thingey idea - its what happened to Britain's historic dominant global trading positions ... Britain has lost all of its ground I (in some areas) to the competition ... stealing of our ideas, patents, flight of capital, 'brain drain', lack of govt vision, strategy, lack of corporate and other R and D/innovation, investment and strategic protectionism etc.

    Strangle those companies in red-tape and then tax them to death and what you have described will come to pass !! Britain probably has one of the most innovation-unfriendly set of laws !! The sheer red-tape, national, local and otherwise, strangling many small innovators before they can even begin !! Of those who persisted against all odds and managed to get a product to market, they are then taxed to death, resulting in them shifting production to friendlier shores !! And all in the name of equality and political correctness !!

    When science and maths are downgraded in schools and the local heroes are those who are paid £200,000 per week to kick a ball around, how will Britain get more inventors/innovators ??

  • Comment number 65.

    50. At 03:00am on 29 Jan 2011, ishkandar wrote:
    #14 >> I agree with most of your arguments. However, there are some point that I'd dispute.
    "1) Altair 8800 was invented in 1975, not 1985. Also, it was not a "manufactured" product since it came in kit form !!"
    My apologies. You are absolutely correct. In fact, I believe the kit cost around US$3,500 at the time, whilst only running BASIC, which did not mean you could do a great deal with it. Certainly light years before GUI.
    "2) Visicalc was developed by Software Arts, later renamed Visicorp. It could not run properly (business-wise) on the bog-standard Apple II microcomputer with "only" 48Kb and, so, it spawned a side industry in add-on memory boards bringing the total memory (RAM) to a staggering 64 Kb !! I know this because I owned/used one in my wild and woolly youth !!"
    Originally, Apple gained an exclusive deal with Visicorp so that Visicalc was only licenced to Apple II machines. This was the "killer app" that propelled Apple ahead of the industry leader at the time (at least in the States), namely: TRS (Tandy Radio Shack). Of course in those days, the term "killer app" had not been coined.
    "3) The industry leader in "mobile" phones used to be Motorola because they had a head-start in brick-shaped and -weight "mobile" phones !! Nokia and Ericsson came much later !!"
    Agreed.
    Good story and illustration on Creative Technologies.

  • Comment number 66.

    19. At 1:15pm on 28 Jan 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:
    "A second point to make is how Microsoft epitomises the path of Capitalism, DOS was originally QDOS which stands for "a quick and dirty operating system" - cheap to make and limited.

    Capitalism meant that this product was more successful through price - which impacted the rise of Apple (as you pointed out) - what many people don't realise is that in recent years Microsoft have moved towards a UNIX based operating system underlying the system - a much more secure and stable operating system - which was available I believe when QDOS was created."
    Like so many things the history of the events included a lot of serendipity.
    IBM entered the US market for microcomputers in August 1981 with a bang. They spent more on advertising on TV and other media in the States than the entire microcomputer industry had spent in its history since 1975. However, interestingly IBM did not choose to design their own computer, which was an exception for a company that used to manufacture its own screws for their mainframe computers at one time. Talk about 'vertical integration'!
    Instead they 'outsourced' the chip set (remember IBM was at the time one of the largest microprocessor manufacturers: it's just that they were all for their own machines) and they outsourced the operating system. Gates and Paul Allen at the fledgeling Microsoft (they had started in 1975 selling BASIC interpreters for the MITS Altair which I mentioned in #14 above)convinced IBM's team (who were novices to the microcomputer world) to let them develop MS-DOS, which was essentially a modification of an existing operating system called 86-DOS which they purchased from Seattle Computer Products. So if you ever feel miserable, think about the guys at Seattle Computer Products. Something about 'there but for the grace of God.....!'
    You are right about UNIX being around at the time. Ironically, Microsoft had developed its own version of UNIX (Xenix) in 1980, but it was DOS that put Microsoft on the map. Of course, the other big loser at this time was the de-facto provider of the 8-bit first generation microcomputers, Digital Research with CP/M-80. The move to the hybrid 8/16 bit environment provided on the Intel 8088 microprocessor used in the IBM-PC was one which Digital Research could manage, since they had by then developed CP/M-86. However, negotiations between Digital Research and IBM broke down, which laid the path open for Microsoft.
    The current battles between companies involved in hardware, operating systems and applications are nothing new. These kinds of things have been happening for decades as the early history of the personal computer illustrates.
    In a parallel universe, IBM could easily have chosen to produce its PC in-house, using the IBM-801 RISC processor, which was at the time much more powerful than Intel's 8088 processor and with an OS years ahead of the cludge that was to become PC-DOS. In such a scenario, it is unlikely that either Intel or Microsoft would have grown into the size and success experienced in this universe.
    As I said: a lot of success, whether of the company or of the founders in these situations is all about serendipity and being in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, some of these founders (and I am not here referring to Gates) forget this fact and believe that they are somehow absolute wizards and worthy of such fame and fortunes. The reality is that most of them simply got lucky! But don't tell anyone.

  • Comment number 67.

    62. At 10:27am on 29 Jan 2011, ishkandar wrote:

    #57 >>Hi nautonier,

    Hi Ishkander

    You're either for, againt or indifferent about 'monopolies' ... particularly giant sized ones like Google.

    Perhaps you're happily indifferent to having Google pushed onto your PC every day ... and almost every web page that you open on your PC -

    I'm not at all happy with any monopoly but then Google is *NOT* a monopoly in any shape, form or manner !! There are many other search engines in the world; it's just that far too many people are too lazy to search for them and/or use them.

    .....................
    A)
    and many of the other search engines etc are yelling 'anti-trust' and Google is now much more than a search engine and arguably has a non-competitive position internationally

    >>...some of us are now Google weary and would like to see more innovation, competition and choice ... and it be British... as if UK plc are incapable of competing on the internet.

    As for UK Plc being incapable of competing on the internat or elsewhere, it's quite true, I'm afraid because, although the Brits are quite good at innovation, they seems to simply lack the ability, persistence and/or the knowledge to take a product to market and fight for a share of it !! How often have things been invented/discovered in Britain only for someone else to take it to market and sweep it ??
    ...........................
    A) absolutely
    ...............
    Take computers (them thingies that you are using now) for example. The first was build at Betchley Park and who swept the market with them big boxes ?? IBM, that who !!
    ...............
    >>How is the the non-stop global Google lecture at Davros doing? - Obviously very well!

    As I said earlier, Google is running scared. They missed the boat in the Chinese market by being very arrogant and are now trying to spread FUD to cover up their mistake. They are also trying to prevent other search engines from capitalising on their mistake, Ask Jeeves, for instance !! Hence all that blah, blah in Davos !! If you are truly tired of Google, try Ask Jeeves or any other search engines !!
    ........................
    A) This is more than a search engine issue! Anti-trust issues in the US and elsewhere

  • Comment number 68.

    63. At 10:31am on 29 Jan 2011, ishkandar wrote:

    #60 & 61 >>nautonier

    Are you practicing for the panto season ?? Yes, we are; no we aren't !! :-)

    ....................

    No ... I'm practising my internet skills in finding reliable data (on a new search engine)re: 'sutainability' ... which hardly seems to be getting a mention anywhere ... when I recall that the UK was at one time a global leader in 'corporate sustainability' and now appears to have lost its No 1 position and is still sliding?

  • Comment number 69.

    52. At 03:18am on 29 Jan 2011, ishkandar wrote:
    #26 >>Another saying I recall from the '80's (but of earlier origin?):
    "Get them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow."

    Can't remember who said it, but I think that particular one is definitely US military in origin. I am sure some 'leaders' (political/bureaucratic/business) have adopted it as a motto.


    Sorry about this history lesson but although this saying was attributed to LBJ, it was, I believe, a retort to a British offer to advise the Americans on how to handle a guerrilla war in Vietnam. The British had just successfully fought a war against the Communist guerrillas in (then) Malaya using the strategy of "hearts and minds" and they offered their advice to the Americans. Some American general or other (believed to be Abrams), decided otherwise and the rest, as they say, is history !!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Ta for the history lesson. So good, I thought I'd post it twice.

    I was wondering if it was a WWII saying from someone like Patton. Now we know.

    John from Hendon has gone a bit quiet.

  • Comment number 70.

    37. At 4:20pm on 28 Jan 2011, writingsonthewall wrote:
    29. At 1:59pm on 28 Jan 2011, Up2snuff wrote:

    "Trust me on this: Schmidt has a lot of people after his job in the US."

    A lot of people are after my job - but I don't act like a banker because of it - I just see it as complimentary.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Aah, but you don't have his stock and options, do you?

    Bet you wish you did.

    That said, shareholdings are no guarantees of security. Can't remember how much Jobs held when pushed out of Apple but it was not insignificant.

  • Comment number 71.

    "42. At 5:00pm on 28 Jan 2011, edge540 wrote:
    Writingsonthewall..

    BTW, you need an admin/root account to install any o/s, whether Windows, UNIX/Linux or System 11. A good point that can be made here is that the default Admin account that is created when you install Windows on your home PC should never be used except where necessary to upgrade/modify the o/s as necessary. Create a separate account without Admin privileges for general use. You can check which accounts have what privileges from the Control Panel Users applet. You do need to be logged-on as Admin to change them though."

    LOL - Somebody has just indicated root cause of the deficiencies of an operating system and you think your answer covers it? Windows was meant to be easy to use and still is. It is very easy to drive but we had to introduce a driving test. Windows OS is fine if you pay, pay, pay, pay until you learn. In my opinion (legal getout) You WILL pay by running Windows OS either in data loss or time. Admin privileges? Are you kidding? Find vulnerability and escalate, you will have your cherished admin rights no matter who you initially logged in as!

    Microsoft does epitomise capitalism IMO and I find WOW's analysis shows great insight into operating systems assuming not an IT person. Edge540, with all respect, please, do not step outside of your knowledge domain. How many people here know that (if you must run Microsoft) then you no longer need to pay for Antivirus software as it is now free from Microsoft and as good as the rest? You still buy your computer and are pushed towards paying for a product that you can download for free from Microsoft (Not the usual AVG or CLAM or , . . . .). Why is that?

    edge540, have you ever explained to the end user about an Admin account? Joe Bloggs just doesn't get it! Don't try to make computing easy in one argument (Microsoft Windows) and then back that up with erroneous information on how to secure an operating system that was never designed to be a multi user environment! As a friend I would urge you to re-read all WOW's posts I don't think he is God but he is shining a few lights in areas that have been kept in the dark for many many years. Reason, argue, debate, listen ... never be offended. If not then you deserve to lose liberties and security :(

  • Comment number 72.

    I read the comments on this blog with some interest, however getting back to google:

    Google's dominance as a search engine was/is only effective because of their unique "citation" ranking of sites. This was a boon for users who could instantly search for the most relevant sites, instead of wading through pages of irrelevant material before they found what they were looking for.

    However, I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but recently I've found that they are starting to slip up when it comes to the relevance of their first page search results. Although they keep their algorithm a secret, everyone knows that backlinking is the key for search engine optimization.

    Effectively this means that it's no longer the case that the most relevant material is the most "cited" or backlinked. Instead the highest ranking search positions now go to sites that have used SEO techniques more effectively. I expect this effect will become more prominent, in a few years time, if google do nothing to find a way of bringing their algorithm back on track.

    IMO, this is where I think google have lost their way a little, they have become too obsessed with trying to enter / dominate every market area available to them that they have neglected the very thing that made them unique in the first place. I'm all for innovation but sometimes you just need to stick to (or atleast maintain) what you do best.

    Also, another selling point google used to have was the clean look and feel of their search engine. There are no news articles and features etc. that you would typically find on other search engines, which (IMO)makes the search facility look like an afterthought. Google was a no frills, simple search engine but they are going down the road of overloading it with unnecessary features, for example, the new "instant" (slight irony here) search slows down the process of performing a search, because it wastes time performing a search on what it thinks you're about to type whilst you're in the process of typing something else.

    I don't think it's a case of google "being too grown up" and having to project a younger image, because a "grown up" would perhaps be more risk averse and stick to what they did best. Google's problem is that they have tried to diversify too much and have latched on to every fad that has cropped up in an attempt to stay "current"; a lot like someone who was still trying to find an identity.

    Social networks are a fad, they are only successful because they are popular but nothing is popular forever. They will be replaced by the next big thing as and when the time comes. Google would do well to keep their finger out of that pie and concentrate instead on their core business, which Schmidt himself admits, generates their biggest revenue.

 

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