Open Letter to Brin & Page
December 14, 2004
Mssrs. Sergey Brin & Larry Page
Dear Sergey & Larry-
Surely you are aware of OpenOffice.
Perhaps the information of OpenOffice.org's 50-odd-million global downloads (combined with StarOffice) commands only the periphery of your attention. I'd like to bring these facts and their implications more to the center for you.
Keeping a long story short, you can help yourselves and the prospects for your company by using OpenOffice's open XML file format as a formatting option in your wonderful libraries project, and take other measures to promote OpenOffice to a position which makes it harder for your competitors to invest sufficiently to compete with you in search.
Now that one of your primary competitors is entering the search business--as well as the desktop search field--you have at least some of the competition you always envisioned. A good way to strengthen your position is to make it more difficult for competitors to invest in search and contextual linking in emulation of your own very sensible business model.
Attack their cash flow! As you know, this competitor's net cash comes principally from operating system and application business lines. What better measures are available to you than to create a vacuum in the paid office suite application business by accelerating OpenOffice's--and its excellent open XML file format's--path toward leading the office suite market and bringing an open file format to a full standard?
OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) is the consortium that protects and controls the technical specifications of this interesting open XML file format which was originally developed by the engineers of OpenOffice/StarOffice. Now, this file format has been updated by the OASIS Open Office File Format Technical Committee ("the TC") and takes a new name, "OpenDocument." The format will be the native file format of OpenOffice2 (due out sometime in Spring 2005) and, likely, of other open-oriented office suites. You can sample OpenOffice's current and very similar implementation of its open XML file format by downloading OpenOffice 1.1.3 here.
I needn't relate to you the practical importance of an open standard office suite file format, except to openly reiterate that a text document existing in an open XML format like OpenDocument is searchable--the whole contents of that document--at the granular level of the words within the document (not just the meta information or limited number of tags or keywords someone enters about the document).
I urge you to consider leveraging the free resources available and trust you already have the motivation, the people and resources under your employ to create something durable and important for people all over the world. One way to move ahead is by scanning the works of the libraries of Stanford, Oxford, Harvard, the University of Michigan, the New York Public Library and others into the OASIS "OpenDocument" File Format of the OpenOffice desktop office suite. This will guarantee public access to the libraries' contents as well as indirectly promote Google's interests in search.
With sincere regard for the contributions you have already made,
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