Updated: 4/30/2007; 4:05:50 PM.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Entering the GoogleNet

If the articles this past week about Google embracing-and-extending the Web [this one by Andrew Orlowski and this one by Robert X Cringley] seem far-fetched, consider my experience today:

On my Nokia phone, I often use the Web browser to look up maps and addresses, or to read the news, via GPRS. I'm much more inclined to do this in the US, compared to in Ireland where I also have a phone plan, because wireless Internet is so much cheaper in the US. Wireless Internet access is available as an add-on to my T-Mobile phone plan for only $19.99 a month flat fee. By contrast, Vodafone Ireland charge me 0.02 per KB for the first 512 KBs and then additional KBs used are charged at the rate of 0.005 per KB, with a minimum of 10 KB charged for every GPRS connection. This means that, in a few days in Ireland, I'm charged more for some limited emailing and Web browsing than I am for a whole month in the US.

So anyway, at lunchtime today I found my usual dry-cleaner closed. A quick Google search on the phone turned up another one within walking distance, with the phone number, and then one click on the phone number link in the phone's browser dialled the number. Nifty stuff. I can see this taking off. While walking back, I did a search on Google to see what results it returned for "XML security management", and was pleased to see that Vordel is number one :-) . I clicked on the Vordel link and scrolled through the page on the phone. At the bottom, ironically after the Vordel copyright notice, I saw some links to Google which Google had put there. So, this was not the Vordel site, but rather it was Google's representation of it. I clicked on a link to another Vordel page. The next page also had Google links along the bottom and at the top, the title was still "Google". I tried to bookmark the page but couldn't, since what was seeing was not the Vordel website, it was how Google had rendered the Vordel website. In fact, there was no way to leave Google, since each link was being rendered through Google. I'd entered the "GoogleNet". 

Richard X Cringley's article said that in the future we'd "surf an Internet that is really the Google cache". This is what I was doing at lunchtime today. The scary thing was how useful it was - Google's rendering of the Web pages fitted them nicely to the phone's screen. Everything was really fast. Phone numbers were converted into callouts for the phone to dial. When I did a search for Boston weather, there was the weather from the Boston Globe website, with the title of the page being "Google" and with the Google links along the bottom. If this had been my first time using the Internet, I'd probably have thought "Wow this Google thing is great, look at all the information they provide for me". Remember that statistic about how more and more users first experience of the Internet will be through a mobile phone?

In terms of user experience, the little phone browser reminded me of using Lynx on VS-320 terminals, which I used on the maths machines at college. Remember when Yahoo came along, and its domain name would resolve to akebono.yahoo.com which was an under-the-desk server in one of the founders dorm rooms. Imagine if, back then, Yahoo rendered all of the Websites for the user, so that there would be no way to leave Yahoo, once you'd entered it. I think there would have been, as we say in Ireland, holy war. That's what Google is doing here.


4:43:34 PM    comment []

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