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Google Speaks: Secrets of the World's Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page by Janet Lowe

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3.6. OPEN PLATFORM

While Google waves the flag for open platforms, the details of their own platforms often are carefully guarded secrets.

At a 2008 Web 2.0 conference, Google's vice president of engineering, Vic Gundotra, argued that control of the platform by a single provider by definition slows down innovation. This was a veiled reference to Gundotra's former employer, Microsoft. Microsoft executive David Treadwell was on the same panel. He challenged Google to release into the community the driving technology of its business, its search engine, and ad platforms. Gundotra shot back that he wasn't advocating total control, and that a balance could be struck between business interests and the broader interests of the community.[]

San Jose State's Joel West says that the term open has disintegrated into a marketing term, and Google is disingenuous when it implies it is an open platform. "Every platform is open to some degree and closed to some degree. This is necessary if the company is to continue as a business. Google may be more open than most companies." But West says that few of its products are fully open. "Android is not open. To say so is misleading. Only a small number of (chosen) people have access to its code." Google Books, he says, is closed, because no other Internet provider can use the books. Even readers have limited access, which is controlled entirely by Google.[]

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