To most entertainment executives, Google’s introduction of “Chrome” this week probably seems too inside baseball to care about. But actually, it’s all related to something that keeps studio heads up at night: control of distribution.
That’s one way to look at all the consolidation in Hollywood over the last 20 years: Sony bought Columbia and TriStar because it wanted “content” for its electronics. Disney bought ABC because Michael Eisner worried the TV networks could squeeze any fees they wanted for his TV shows and movies. Winning Paramount gave Sumner Redstone films to fill his National Amusements theater chain and pipe to Viacom’s cable channels.
Google is clearly concerned that Microsoft could make Internet Explorer unfriendly to Google applications. This is not paranoia. Much of Microsoft’s explosive growth came from its leveraging its monopoly in computer operating systems to decimate smaller rivals. Netscape was done away with by making IE the first thing that showed up on every new computer desktop. Microsoft Word worked better with Windows than Wordperfect.
So Google wants to make sure it has secured its own route from the consumer’s desktop to the Internet. And from the mobile phone to the Internet as well, when Android is introduced toward the end of this year.
An interesting twist: Google is making the code for Chrome available to anybody, including its competitors. Not exactly akin to giving away the copyrights to all your movies, but its certainly a shift from the monopolistic ways of Microsoft.