As Google's stock price falls today (currently $437.20), I can't help but have a two-thirds negative mood with regard to Google. First, Google has decided to censor itself in China on political subjects to conform with the repressive communist Chinese regime's wishes. Evil, evil, evil. Second, the tragedy that is the current version of Google Video continues to weigh. However, on the positive side, last evening I tried a Google Talk voice phone call with my brother-in-law and it worked great. I used a headset. My brother-in-law used a cheap microphone that he hooked up to his computer some time ago and prompty forgot. The call quality seemed much better than that provided by a telephone.
In 2005, Google spent more -- probably well more -- than $800 million on capital items, which includes everything from new servers to new office space. Even though Google Video provides low quality video, I am impressed with how reliable the service is, and what this indicates with regard to Google's infrastructure. It's positively mind-blowing, even with Google being able to pick up dark fiber at fire sale prices (Level 3 at only a $2.45 billion market capitalization). At least one person in this world thinks that the capital spending is much higher than investors imagine, for instance.
For Google Talk, the measure of the quality of Google's infrastructure is latency -- i.e., how long it takes for information to make the round-trip time from my computer to the Google Talk servers and from my brother-in-law's computer to the Google Talk server. If the latency is too high, there will be annoying breaks in the conversation, as often happens with cell phones. From my computer at work to the Google Talk server, the round-trip latency often clocks in at only 4 milliseconds, or 1/250th of a second -- well below the best I had ever seen. Very impressive.