What, exactly, is Google?

The search engine has evolved into something much broader, and it's hard to say exactly what kind of company it is anymore.

By , Guest blogger

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    A woman walks past the logo of Google in front of its Chinese headquarters in Beijing in January 2011. Has Google become a full-blown media company?
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Tonight's question...

What exactly is Google ($GOOG)? I mean, really, what is it?

When we first welcomed it into our lives it was a utility, the cleanest search engine interface on the web (remember how junky and cluttery those stupid "portals" were? (For more on Google's genesis, check out how Altucher passed on the earliest iteration of the company back in the day.)

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Anyway, as the New York Times points out, Google has basically been becoming a full-blown media company, albeit one with search DNA running through it....

What company derives 96 percent of its revenue from advertising, has a video platform that is currently negotiating with the National Basketball Association, a movie studio and various celebrities, and is developing a subscription service that would be plug-and-play for publishers and consumers the world over.

Time Warner? News Corporation? Viacom?

Nope. Google.

With every content initiative and partnership, Google gets closer and closer to a lower-margin, dog-eat-dog media company model. Meanwhile, platform and utility-like stuff such as Reader, GMail, Docs, Android, etc are merely captured space for more ad business - in and of themselves they make no money.

I get asked about the stock all the time and whether it's still a must-own for the long-term. That question gets tougher and tougher to answer even as the company continues to grow.

What say you?

Source:

How Google is Evolving Into a Media Company (NYT)

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