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8:00 AM – Can Google really be a great company if all the services I use it for kinda suck?

Bear with me as I strap on my Luddite thinking cap and ponder Google as a provider of consumer applications.

I use Google as a search engine and it works well. But only as well as I've come to expect from Internet search engines. When I search for "George W. Bush," I expect to get a site that compares our president to a chimpanzee on the first page of results.

I tried Google Video, a free service that lets me upload, search, and share an unlimited number of videos.

If you don't want to pay for video hosting, try it. But if you want to watch anything worth a damn, try regular television.

Google Video has nothing on it except a bunch of stuff sent in from folks, like me, that don't want to pay for video hosting. The content is awful, there's lots of it, and it's free.

Maybe Google Video, as a service, is not that great. Maybe I'm too early to the party. I don't know.

I've also used Google Talk several times to connect with coworkers on faraway planets, like San Francisco. It works like a ship-to-shore radio transmission.

You talk. You say, "over." You pause. Then the other person asks you to repeat yourself. Then they say, "over." Then you talk some more.

Google will soon offer Internet access for free in San Francisco and Mountain View, Calif. If I lived there, I'd probably hang on to my cable modem just in case Google's free Internet access worked as well as Google Talk or was as compelling as Google Video.

Look, I'm not trying to argue that Google, or its search technology, lacks value. But I'm having a hard time figuring why a company that provides mostly faulty services to freeloaders is rewarded with a $110 billion market cap?

I can't use the "you get what you pay for" argument. I also don't understand why someone would pay AOL $29 a month for the same services (trifling content, email service, instant messaging, Web hosting) that folks can get on the Internet -- and at Google -- for free.

What happens to Google -- and its market cap -- when the free apps and services they offer to the Internet consumer suddenly are seen as trivial widgets we can all live without?

— Phil Harvey, Googly-Moogly Editor, Light Reading

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