I can hardly imagine Google making the kind of money the investor community is anticipating without getting scores of unhappy users. Granted, Google is still far from Yahoo!'s misplaced and annoying advertising, but in the end how can anybody make that kind of money and remain Mr. Nice?
First off, how many people recall Koogle? He used to be Yahoo!'s CEO before Semel. Yahoo! needed a Semel to graduate from the do-only-good on the internet stage and start delivering the type of ROI the Street had been waiting for. Will Google's management and don't-be-evil philosophy change in time? Let's see: Eric Schmidt had given us a taste for how well he could maneuver a corporate entity, at Novell. Wasn't he the one who, among other things, sold SCO-Unix, yet later Novell bought SUSE-Linux? If Schmidt is replaced by a Semel's equivalent, people will talk about Page&Brin as they do now about Filo&Young.
So far, Google's achievements are:
- Made most happy internet users;
- Built one (of the most?) extraordinary internet infrastructures on commodity equipment;
- Perfected an (IBM/CMU?) search/ranking algorithm for web pages to the point advertising subsidizes their turning upside-down business rules for ISVs;
- Bought a few start-ups and released their nice technologies for free;
- Seduced the Street into getting a $7Bn cash advance;
- Created a supposedly phenomenal working environment at a larger scale;
- By and large, lived by its don't-be-evil philosophy.
How far and where can Google grow from here?
I think most speculation on this is, to put it mildly, unwarranted. I'll leave it to those who need to trade such things. What we may anticipate is that an advertising-subsidized internet can become as Orwellian as they come. There is no such thing as free lunch, and those who expect it should reckon the difference between HBO and the big 4-5 major TV networks. The only problem is going to be the multiplicative factor of the internet.
Who should be afraid of Google?
IMO, its first casualties are going to be those businesses, targeting consumers, that don't understand simplicity commands a premium. More on this here--see the CHI Triad. Conversely, when companies are thinking too much in terms of closed-platforms, or closed-specs complements for their products and technologies, the inherent complexity is discounted. It is as if Microsoft or Intel started with the idea of a platform in mind, or DRM was contemporary to the first Walkman. So, when "new" at Microsoft is an extension of one of its platforms, and Intel tries to go with its first Itanium, they are not as mindful of the customer as they were when their success was growing. In these cases, the novelty is called Google, and AMD, respectively.
Another category that is living under potential threat would be our very selves--the users of Google technology. Indeed, the potential for Google's misusing personal information is so huge that one may want to pay just to be free.
As far as I am concerned, my interaction with Google has been allright. While I have not received any discounts to the things I enjoy via Google, the little experiment I run with the smallest Google ad-box to the right of this posting is behaving. The displayed ads match the contents of this page anywhere from 45% to 85%. Yet, I have seen much worse on more popular pages...
Thank you for your attention and comments!