Monday, November 14, 2005

The Google Influence

I don't mean for this site to be all about praising Google, it's just that they seem to be the most interesting company around these days, especially of the 3 tech giants (Google, Yahoo, Mircosoft a.k.a GYM, though I have a hunch we're going to need to learn to fit Apple in that acronym somewhere).

Their primary advantage seems to be in the execution, and brilliant marketing strategy that I'm not sure I've completely figured out. Of course, they do trip everyonce in awhile. And for all the praise I'd like to sing about Google Analytics, they do deserve the beating they're about to take for not warning existing Urchin customers, while not being able to keep the service up. Still, for every bad move Google makes, they seem to make 9 or 10 great ones. And if not, at least they hint to a greater, untapped, and coming soon potential.

In addition, beyond all that Google does directly, they are beginning to force the preexisting tech giants to rethink their notions of the web and software in general.

Take for instance this article posted at CNET today:

Microsoft eyes making desktop apps free.

You can be sure that the only reason Microsoft is thinking of this is because of Google's threat to take traditional software to the web and serve it to us for free. It's rather amazing to think it has come to this, and stands as a testament to the power of the market. We didn't need government intervention for Microsoft to finally be threatened, we just needed to rethink the nature of the intersection between technology, business, life in general, and all those other little details that come up day to day.

Now, to be fair, I am having an extremely hard time figuring out how anyone is going to top Google. Search, or findability in general, will continue to be the single most important factor from a consumer standpoint for the foreseeable future. Search is not limited to the internet, or at least to a web broswer. Neverminnd that in a few short years, Google has already positioned itself as one of, if not the largest of the worlds advertising platforms. Continuing forward, if Google has it's way, it will be a major player in the telecom industry(say hello to completely free VOIP based WiFi cell phones), it will be major player in the health and genetic research industry, it will become a player in the realm of Space research, and it will continue to lead the path to findability in realms we haven't yet conceptualized a possibility for yet.

Don't believe me? Come back in a few short years. If you're not using a mobile version of the Google Talk I/M messenger downloaded to your cell phone, comfortably switching from a free (likely Google provided) wifi hotspot (read: your entire city) to a traditional cell connection where the wifi may be weak, it'll probably be because you're on someone elses free network. Google is accelarating the adoption of internet technologies so fast that I believe most futurists and technologists themselves are a bit surprised by it. I certainly am. The pace of innovation is astounding, and because it's being done (mostly) by Google, it's somehow comforting.

Finally, to comment on the article linked above. I can't imagine Microsoft will succeed in the realm of free software. The concerns outlined by Microsoft employees in the article are very real. Reliably tying adversting into desktop applications, especially if you're a poorly trusted firm such as Microsoft, is going to be an extremely difficult task. I wouldn't allow such software, certainly not from Microsoft, anywhere near a personal computer of mine.

However, if Microsoft does succeed at all with advertising based software, it will be in no small part due to a change heart from the software giant. No matter what anyone says, the Google mantra of "Don't be Evil" is very comforting when it is adhered to (fairly) rigorously. Microsoft is going to have a significant PR challenge in offering any free software, one that is likely to take years to turnaround significantly.

However, if Google's influence and dominance remains unchecked, Microsoft maybe able use that to their advantage to gain goodwill.


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