In Germany, Google is vilified as an octopus, a target for attacks from all sides. Cartel, data, and copyright laws are used as heavy artillery against the American company.
But this is a loser’s debate: Germany is not even close to being a decisive battleground for online giants such as Google. Germany has to improve its chances on the most important market of the future instead of pondering regulatory pressure as a means to combat global IT and Internet companies.
An industrial nation such as Germany cannot just leave the enormous potential of the Internet and IT industries to others; industries that can generate up to $20 trillion globally, compared to a world gross domestic product of $70 trillion.
All the more so because the $20 trillion figure is not the only issue: new solutions will drive out and diminish old business models. So far, this is most apparent in the news business or trade, but it will also hit traditional industries through the web-based linking of production processes.
Six of the largest IT and Internet sector providers – Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Salesforce.com – are based in the United States.
These did not fall from the sky – they arose from a culture that encourages innovation. Instead of going on a petty offensive, Germany’s mindset has to change completely: How can it provide its entrepreneurs with a framework to facilitate a meteoric rise to the heights of Google, Microsoft and the others? The preconditions are only partly in place.
Thus, the German Internet sector, at 3 percent of GDP, clearly lags behind European countries such as Great Britain with a sector almost three times as large. Even infrastructure such as broadband needs to catch up considerably: When measured by average speed, Germany is in the worst 25 percent of industrial countries.