Google on Amazon, Apple, Microsoft: Napalm

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In the 1993 made-for-HBO movie "Barbarians at the Gate" there is ascene in which Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.'s Henry Kravis is being asked by his business partner George Roberts what to do about being rebuffed by RJRNabisco's CEO Ross Johnson regarding taking part in the largest leveraged buyout to date. Kravis responds chillingly in one word: "Napalm."

That aggressive declaration of war may just as well have applied to Google's ( GOOG) declaration of war on Amazon ( AMZN), Microsoft ( MSFT) and Apple ( AAPL) deliveredat its annual i/o conference last week. Google has as vast anarray products and services as any of its main competitors, and it isnow gunning aggressively in almost all directions -- simultaneously.
Google

It is too much to go into detail here about all of Google's competitive offensives, so this will be an overview soon to be followed by considerably moredetail on each point. The laundry list of Google's announcements hadits hidden gems, whoppers as well as the inevitable distractions.

I bet that, most likely, the two things you heard about Google lastweek were (1) the skydiving stunt and (2) the new small 7-inch tablet. So let's start with those.
  • Skydiving stunt: Conceived by co-founder Sergey Brin, this highlydangerous maneuver right above downtown San Francisco was made todemonstrate the new eyeglasses that Google plans to release initiallyin limited volume in early 2013.
    I wrote about these Google glasses before, on April 9 and I was very positive about one particular killer app I had in mind. As much as I enjoyed the skydiving stunt from alive entertainment perspective -- who wouldn't? -- it wasn't necessary.But it got the whole world talking about it.
    With Google having so many other things to introduce, focusing on theskydiving stunt was a little bit like following General Patton aroundnear Dover, England, in the late Spring of 1944: Entertaining, butyou'd be barking up the wrong tree. D-Day is happening somewhereelse.
  • New tablet: The fact that Google partnered with Asus for a 7-inchtablet that was going to cost $200 had been widely leaked for quitesome time, but the product still managed to surprise most observers.In combination with the new operating system -- 4.1 Jelly Bean -- thehardware performs like a champ and is extremely pleasant in your hand. It's a major winner, especially for $200.
    That's not to say that the Asus Nexus 7 covers all the bases. At 7inches, it's obviously not a direct competitor to the iPad, but ratherprimarily to Samsung, Amazon and the BlackBerry PlayBook. It only comes with one camera, dedicated to videoconferencing, and it lacks cellular data connectivity.
    Fear not, however, as we surely will soon see many other Android 4.1tablets from multiple hardware vendors sporting larger screen sizes,more cameras, and cellular data connectivity. Lest I fail to mentionthe obvious, but how about Google-owned Motorola releasing multipletablets ranging from 7 to 12 inches later this year?
    Speaking of Motorola, it was as absent from Google's presentations asa 1930s version of a picture of Lenin containing a nearby Trotsky.Google closed its largest acquisition to date by far, whether measuredby price, sales or number of employees -- and not a single wordmentioning even the name Motorola. This worries me as a shareholder.
  • PDK: Google plans to release its Platform Development Kit for Android to hardware makers (and software modifiers) wellin advance of any new major Android operating system release. This isrelated to things such as drivers, which may sound boring but has beenthe key reason for delays in launches of Android devices as well asupgrades to old ones. This is a huge step forward for Android,meaningfully improving the competitive landscape against Apple andMicrosoft -- and yet it got almost zero attention in the media.
  • Google NOW: Part of the new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google NOW is a new predictive engine that anticipates what you need or should knowbased on where you are, where you're going and your past habits. Ittells you proactively when to leave for your next meeting, when andwhere the nearest buses are departing, restaurants around you and soforth. It will learn your behavior over time and refine itselfinfinitely. A huge winner against Apple and Microsoft.
  • Chrome OS: Available today from Samsung in desktop and laptop form factors -- see my review from June 4 -- Chrome OS devices will now finally be marketed in retail locations,starting with Best Buy (BBY). Google also confirmed that many more Chromebooks and Chromeboxes from other device makers should be expected to arrive soon, and I interpreted that to mean by November at the latest.
  • Nexus Q: This is a multimedia player connecting directly to speakers or to an existing home entertainment system. It competes with somecombination of privately held Sonos, as well as Roku and Apple TV.
    Suffice it to say that I don't see that it offers any meaningfuladvantage over the competition that makes me want to pay $300 for it.Unless it obtains a software upgrade that dramatically improves thevalue proposition, it will fail.
  • Cloud Computing: This is the "Big Kahuna" of Google's sweet spot in the emerging technologies, and it appears to be launching majorbroadsides against companies such as Amazon and Microsoft inparticular. Instead of purchasing and installing local apps on yourdevices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, whatever), Google justexecutes these instructions in the cloud without any of the relativecost or hassle.
    I can't emphasize Google's cloud computing efforts enough. Manycompanies including Microsoft, Apple and Amazon should be runningscared. They may try to match Google in this area, but they riskpunctuating their own profit models in the process.
    As just one example, Google showed how to map DNA in a fraction of asecond using 600,000 CPU cores. Who knows how many years such acalculation used to take in the past? We tend to be impressed whenthe incumbent computing companies expand from one core, to two, fourand six. This demo was 600,000 cores.
    The phrase "orders ofmagnitude" is often over-used, but not in this case: How about 100,000times? Over the next couple of years, this dramatic Google capabilityis likely to change the computing landscape more than any other factorin the history of technology.
  • In summary, don't let yourself be distracted by the skydiving stunt,or pin all of your hopes on the new Asus 7-inch Nexus tablet. It willtake most of Wall Street the better part of the next year to digestGoogle's dramatic progress in many critical areas where thecompetition is being left in the dust. If I were Microsoft, Amazon orApple, I would be afraid -- very afraid.

    This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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