How will junk content undermine the fundamental basis of Google’s business model?

As I mentioned before in “7 Secrets of Tomorrow’s Highly Successful Internet Businesses”, Google is on a war-path against junk content on the Internet. Their plan is to promote high quality content on the Internet and reward those who consistently create them. The end-result is to provide a great experience for everyone who uses the Internet—for free. But as I asked in “How does Google make money if it gives away stuffs for free?”, how does this seemingly charitable initiative by Google relate to their business model? To answer this question, let’s examine what I wrote:

In Google’s ideal universe, information (collectively) is free and abundant, but consumers’ attention (for each individual information provider) is scarce. Each feed of one another in a positive feedback loop—to attract the attention of consumers, businesses are forced to give more and more information away, which in turn causes information to be more abundant (collectively), which in turn makes consumers’ attention even more scarce (for each individual businesses), which forces businesses to give yet even more information away.

Google’s plan on world domination through making the world’s information free and abundant was on track until around 2011 when something began to go awry. As the price and quantity of information descended, it seemed that the quality of information went down too. At one point, Google’s search engine seemed to have lost its mojo. People were complaining that it was directing users to low quality content. That was a sign that web spammers were successfully gaming Google’s search system.

That was a serious problem for Google. People were still relying on Google to seek information. But if they were finding more and more junk content, people would soon associate free information with low quality information. Should that happen, people would soon realise that the only way to get good quality information was to pay for it.

This potential shift in the mindset of consumers will play right into the hands of Amazon and Apple as they provide a ready-made integrated infrastructure for content producers to sell (and more importantly, restrict) their information. As more high quality information migrate to the walled-garden of Amazon and Apple, Google’s search engine will be barred from accessing them. This will be the death knell of Google’s business model as the fundamental basis of their business model is being gradually violated. As the shift continues, people will flock to Amazon and Apple in search of information. Subsequently Google will start to lose the attention of people, which means they will lose the very product that they are selling—attention.

That is why to stop this trickle from becoming a flood, Google has to take the urgent action of cracking down on poor quality (but free) information on the Internet. Will Google succeed? We shall see.

In the next article, we will look at who is the greatest threat to Google (the obvious answer is actually wrong!).

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