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Google Buying Akamai? GooglesNet Replacing Internet? A closed dark fiber shadow of an Open Internet?

The much under-appreciated trend is how rapidly much of the Internet is effectively being supplanted by "GooglesNet," given that Google's data-centers uniquely and constantly capture and store current copies of the Internet's roughly trillion web-pages. GooglesNet is not transparent and is increasingly becoming a closed dark fiber shadow of the "Open Internet."

  • An interesting development relevant to the inexorable Googlesnet is that Bloomberg/Barrons reports that Google could buy Akamai, the world-leading Internet service provider "for accelerating and improving delivery of content and applications on the Internet." (Ironic given Google's support for net neutrality.)
  • Akamai was featured this week as one of the Internet's "hyper-giant" content delivery companies in Arbor Networks Internet traffic study that ranked Google as the world's largest Internet service provider by traffic carried.  
  • The Bloomberg/Barrons reports of Google's possible interest in buying Akamai are also in line with Reuters report last month that "acquisitions are turned on again at Google."

Also interestingly, a Google acquisition of Akamai would fit Google's long-established merger & acquisition pattern of expanding the scale and scope of Google's Internet offerings by acquiring the leading provider of adjacent Internet services and integrating it into Google's data centers and its closed GooglesNet of "dark" fiber -- largely as a free GooglesNet offering.  

See the established pattern of similar Google acquisitions:

  • Blogger (2/03) for blogging, Measure Map (2/06) for blog-tracking software, and Feedburner (5/07) for RSS feed and blog advertising network;
  • Picassa (7/04) and Panoramio (8/07) for digital photo management -- Google Images;
  • Urchin Software (3/05) and Trendanalyzer (3/07) for web traffic analysis i.e. Google Trends;
  • Keyhole (10/4) and Image America (7-07) for digital mapping and aerial imaging, i.e. Google Earth and Google Maps;
  • Dodgeball (5/05) and GrandCentral Communications (7/07) for text messaging and phone integration, i.e. Google Voice;
  • YouTube (10/06) On2 (8/09) for Internet broadcasting and video compression;  
  • GreenBorder (5/07) and Postini (7/07) for web browsing and application security, ostensibly for online tracking;
  • DoubleClick (12/07) for display-ad-serving/analytics and Google's behavioral advertising/"interest-based advertising."

The strategic benefit to Google of buying Akamai is at least four-fold.

  • First, it would further increase Google's status as the largest and fastest-growing Internet service provider in the world per the recent Arbor Networks study.   
  • Second, it would give Google an infrastructure relationship with most all the major internet content delivery providers in the world that they don't currently have a relationship with. (Just like the DoubleClick aquisition gave Google relationships with most all the Global 1000 advertisers Google did not work with, but Doubleclick did, and also the roughly 25% of websites that Google did not have a relationship with, but DoubleClick did.) 
  • Third, Akamai would give Google an excellent infrastructure and deep packet inspection window into much of the content traffic of Google's Internet distribution competitors. (Much like Google's acquisition of DoubleClick's dominant ad-serving analytics software gives Google an inside look into what non-Google advertisers and its competitors are doing in display advertising.)
  • Fourth, it could help goose Google's slow growth.  

The big downside of a Google acquisition of Akamai, would surely be another contentious and uncertain DOJ antitrust review.

  • It would be logical to expect that Google's competitors in Internet content distribution would strongly object that Google acquiring Akamai would be anti-competitive when combined with Google's global search advertising monopoly, DoubleClick's world-leading ad-serving reach, and YouTube's Internet video broadcasting dominance of being ~twenty times larger than its nearest competitor. 
  • A Google-Akamai DOJ review would likely galvanize content providers against Google, like the proposed Google-Yahoo ad agreement galvanized advertisers against Google, and like the Google book Settlement galvanized broad content opposition against Google. 

Additionaly, a Google-Akamai acquisition would also further complicate Google's attempt to skirt the FCC's proposed net neutrality regulations, because Akamai is openly in the non-neutrality business of accelerating the delivery of some content ahead of others.

In sum, a Google acquisition of Akamai would be a very big deal indeed, in the competitive marketplace, at the DOJ and at the FCC.