From an interview in the LA Times:
Q: Is Google a media company or a technology company?
A: It’s better to think of Google as a technology company. Google is run by three computer scientists, and Google is an innovator in technology in our space. We’re in the advertising business — 99% of our revenue is advertising-related. But that doesn’t make us a media company. We don’t do our own content. We get you to someone else’s content faster.
Now, it’s true that Google gets you to other people’s content faster. That’s the basis of the media revolution I’ve been on about for some time now .
But to equate Google not doing its own content with a free pass from the media company classification is, well, absurd. That presumes that media companies only make packaged goods – traditional content – and ignores the fact that the majority of media companies in a post web world (and plenty in the pre web world) are not “creators of content” they are innovators in the media experience business in one way or another. Is Comcast in the media business? After all, they really are only distributors of content. EMI Records? Well, they don’t “make their own content” – the musicians do. What about FM? We don’t “make content” – and we do have a technology platform. But don’t tell me we’re not in the media business.
Same for Google. The search engine is inherently a media tool: it innovates in the assembly of useful information. Now, let’s talk about the other media products in Google’s arsenal: Google Finance? Check. Google Video? Check. Blogger, Google Answers, Google Base, Map, Book Search, Earth, Images, Local, Catalogs, News, Mail….check check check!
I’m quite sure the folks at Google are aware of this, and this is most likely an issue of competitive semantics, in the end. First, media businesses, in the main, command far lower valuations on Wall Street than technology businesses. Bill Gates had this same issue back in the 1990s, as I pointed out earlier. And second, the entire media world is fearful of Google; insisting you are not in their business is a placating calculation. But my two cents: No one is buying it.