Preston Gralla has an interesting point of view on Google’s free WiFi initiative. Although most people (myself included) tend to think of how this is a direct shot at the ISPs, he points out one of the less obvious potential casualties: your local newspaper.
As Gralla puts it:
The key to local newspapers' survival is their ability to get money from small local advertisers… But Google's WiFi service can make that kind of local targeting look crude. It will be able to deliver ads literally on a block-by-block basis.
I definitely hope this sort of service comes to my neighborhood soon. For one reason, I’m sick and tired of paying my local cable company an arm and a leg for broadband service. I’ve thought of switching to one of SBC’s introductory DSL offers, but I figure I’ll probably be paying the same ridiculously high rate again in 12 months.
Don’t get me wrong. I subscribe to the local paper and read it every day and I certainly don’t want to see it disappear. I suppose if this sort of program really starts to impact the local advertising business, Google might have an opportunity to swoop in and take over the newspaper industry. After all, both Google and your local newspaper already earn the bulk of their money from advertising. And, it sure seems like Google is well positioned to expand into many new and different businesses.
No wonder Microsoft is so scared of Google: Microsoft spends a fortune trying to take over your living room with Xbox while Google spends almost nothing as it looks to take over everything else!