There is a business in Google but it’s a very obscure topic. The “business side” of the organization is only mentioned briefly in analyst conference calls and the conversation is not conducted with the same team that faces the public. Even then, analysts who should investigate the link between the business and its persona seem swept away by utopian dreams and look where the company suggests they should be looking (mainly the future.)
[…] this laboratory runs only as long as the grant money keeps coming.
[…] So far the money rains down from heaven, but that rain is not infinite nor permanent.
In other words, the answer seems to be that if enough great technology is developed or acquired, then a business model will appear (think about it as a probability problem) and the vulnerability of revenue sources is managed.
So, it’s only a financial problem, wether the Google’s “phantom business model” is sustainable or not?
The deeper problem is in us knowing their intentions. The absence of a purpose rooted in profit makes Google resistant to analysis. There might be a purpose, known only to the founders[or not known at all], but it’s one that is potentially naive, amoral or too abstract to be useful.
The trouble lies in that organization also having de-facto control over the online (and hence increasingly offline) lives of more than one billion people. Users, but not customers, of a company whose purpose is undefined.
Scary but (because?) illuminating.