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Ominous Clouds(不吉な雲行き)Gmailが昨日ダウンした件。本日英文掲載。






News Desk

Notes on the day by the staff of The New Yorker.

September 2, 2009

Ken Auletta: Ominous Clouds



こうなると、不便ですが、そうしたことに対する不安から題は、”Ominous Clouds(不吉な雲)”となっています。もちろん、googleの取り組んでいるクラウドコンピューティングとかけている題名です。 クラウドコンピューターでは、パソコン1台1台にはアプリを載せなくて済み、安価ですみます。






News Desk

Notes on the day by the staff of The New Yorker.

September 2, 2009

Ken Auletta: Ominous Clouds

When Gmail went down yesterday afternoon, I called Ken Auletta, who has written about Google for The New Yorker and whose book about the company, “Googled: The End of The World As We Know It,” will be out this fall, to see how he was holding up. Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation.

Gmail isn’t working. How are you handling it?

I feel like I’m stranded back in the twentieth century. Gmail has been down at least a couple of times before, and YouTube has been down a couple of times in the past twelve months. This is a menace to Google in the future.

Why is it a “menace”?

Google is betting heavily on something called “cloud computing”—the belief that you won’t want to spend a lot of money on expensive software packages from companies like Microsoft, and instead let Google give you free e-mail and apps and all other kinds of services that they will store on their “cloud.” It will be free, it will be portable, and you’ll have access to it anytime you want on any device. That’s a wonderful idea, abstractly. It’s a twenty-first century idea, abstractly.

But if Gmail goes down, it inevitably undermines that trust that consumers need in order for cloud computing to work. If I don’t trust that I can access my e-mail, documents, or schedule in the Google cloud whenever I want, then I’m going to stay with packaged software. That is the danger of what happened today to a company like Google.

Is Google simply betting on this never happening?

Google is betting that this won’t happen. It has been such a successful company—and it’s a been a spectacularly successful company, with twenty-two billion dollars worth of revenue and over four billion dollars worth of profits—because people trust it. And they trust it for many reasons: it’s a really good search engine; it’s a simple search engine; it’s not cluttered with ads, so you don’t feel like Google is abusing you and using you just to sell advertising; and you don’t feel like Google is collecting data to sell to advertisers about you (even though they are).

That trust has been essential to Google’s success over the past eleven years. It’s also essential to the success of cloud computing, which they hope will be a new revenue stream for them. That’s what Gmail is! You’re basically storing your information, your e-mail on a Google server in a Google data center. They say it’s “in the cloud,” but it’s actually in a data center—it means the cloud is always in the sky and you can access it from anywhere, on any device: a handheld device, a cell phone, a laptop, a desktop.

How did it feel to be back in the twentieth century?

It’s not fun! Gmail is my twenty-first-century telephone, and I couldn’t use it.

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