14 Classic Tech Rivalries

In less than ten years, Google has grown from an upstart search engine running out of a Silicon Valley garage into a $23 billion information technology powerhouse. Along the way, Google has broadened its portfolio of products and services by introducing game-changing technology to an existing market (Pagerank, Gmail) or by acquiring other promising companies and their products (Blogger, Writely). Unfortunately its march toward world dominance causes unease among privacy experts. Sound familiar? Though its approach isn't quite the same as Microsoft's lethal "embrace, extend, extinguish" modus operandi, Google has certainly managed to grab significant market share in some areas, while generating revenue along the way. But can it actually beat Microsoft in its strongest suites? 

What's So Great About Cable?

If you want the fastest download times at the lowest cost, cable is clearly the way to go. Companies like Comcast have put together great-looking service bundles that include cable TV service, voice over IP, and (claimed) download speeds of up to 12 mbps. When everything works properly, cable is simply superior to DSL. But the issue of shared access continues to bedevil cable. When your neighbors are downloading files, too, everyone's speeds will suffer. And, if you haven't had cable before, you'll have to add lines to your house. On the other hand, you won't have to deal with the phone company, which is a huge plus in any rational system of thought.  

What's So Great About DSL?

Sure, in most areas, even the fastest DSL connection can't match the speed of cable. On the other hand, you don't share your DSL bandwidth with your neighbors, so you really ought to get close to the advertised download and upload speeds from your DSL service provider. In most instances, you won't need any new wiring either because your existing phone lines can handle the job. So what's the catch? DSL speed depends heavily on the quality of your existing lines. If they are poor, your service will be poor. And you'll have to deal with your phone company (see above). But if you don't want to add cabling to your home, you don't insist on having the fastest download times, and you're in a loving relationship with AT&T, go for DSL.

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