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TheStreet Open House

Google Has the Platform Problem, Not Facebook and Other 'Apps'

Stocks in this article: GOOGYELPAMZNYHOOFBPNFLX

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I spent a considerable amount of time over the weekend thinking about Google (GOOG). I have always been torn between admiration and annoyance when my mind goes there.

In one respect, it's absurd to hammer on Google. It's a multibillion-dollar powerhouse that turned its name into a verb. Nothing but two fist taps to the chest respect on that one. At the same time, however, Google generates nearly all of its revenue (96% at last check) from advertising.

Google

Of course, Google nicely situates its core advertising business across various lucrative platforms. Nonetheless, in terms of revenue, Google is pretty much a one-trick pony. That pony is a stud, no doubt, but it has not done a good job at all monetizing its many other hobbies and innovations.

Wouldn't it be nice to see Google turn something else it does into a billion-dollar revenue stream, sort of the way Amazon.com (AMZN) does with Amazon Web Services? Does everything at Google have to exist simply to build what has become a less-focused brand and its advertising business?

As I wrote an article discussing how Google could put Yelp (YELP) out of business with one puff, I wondered why the company is not more aggressive taking out the Yelps of the world and, more importantly, building new businesses that generate fresh revenue lines.

While I do not want to see Google spread itself thin, it has the opportunity to do more. Ultimately, that "more" might merely further drive advertising revenues. That would not be a bad thing, but it could also translate into something bigger.

In many ways, Google produces content that is no better than what you can get from Yahoo! (YHOO). In fact, I argue that Yahoo! actually produces better content than Google; Yahoo! has just done a horrific job leveraging/monetizing that content.

When I want content (news, sports, finance) I instantly go to Yahoo! In fact, I have the site tabbed multiple times on my browser - the Yahoo! homepage, my portfolio page at Finance and Yahoo! Sports NHL.

When I need search, I don't even go directly to Google anymore. I simply type my keywords into my browser's URL field and, because I have Google set as my default search engine, I receive Google search results. When I need directions, I type in an address in the same box and usually select Google Maps from the Google search-displayed choices. Same goes for shopping. Type in what you need and Google does a serviceable job aggregating sources for virtually all items. Sometimes I get there via a search result, other times by clicking on an ad. Either way, Google wins.

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