For a company so instrumental in enabling the next-generation web, Google’s behavior is unconscionably Web 1.0.
Did you know that you can’t run your own website with the google.com domain? Though the effective value of that domain is only about the same as the value of any other domain name (say $12 a year to register, well within the reach of a private individual such as you or I), the multi-billion dollar Google corporation is effectively its gatekeeper, keeping out everyone else who might possibly use it for profit or not.
For a company so instrumental in enabling the next-generation web, this is unconscionably Web 1.0.
It’s not as if Google invented anything particular interesting with google.com. It’s merely a misspelling of a well-established mathematical term. Though the misspelling was unique for a while, now that the word has become a verb “to google”, it has become ubiquitous in conversations among even casual Internet users, with plenty of documentary evidence in newspaper and magazine articles over the past two years. With hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of next-generation Internet startups building up on the foundation of Google (the company), the name has become truly generic.
It’s time to open it up.
The value of Google (the company) does not rest on the domain name nor even, in particular, the inventions and skill of its employees. The real data comes from the rest of the Internet, billions and billions of web pages and e-mails and instant messages and newsgroup postings and syndication feeds all flowing through a single gatekeeper.
Without the hard work of hundreds of millions of other people, what value would there be in the domain name of google.com? Obviously again, just $12. Google must make its domain name open to all.
Now some might object that this would create confusion. It’s a laughable idea; why obviously my version of maps.google.com will have a different IP address from Google’s maps.google.com. There’s no confusion and no overlap.
Google, it’s time to do the right thing. In the next-generation Internet, you cannot survive as long as you hoard your so-called valuables. Sure, you popularized a cute misspelling and have profited handsomely from it, but share the wealth with the people who made you and are just waiting to jump on the next cool idea. You can’t own an idea whose time as come, so just let it go. You’ll earn back the respect of the next-generation Internet.