Monday, October 03, 2005

Google: megalomania or ... ?

Google's highspeed innovation strategy draws two very similar comments, from Breakingviews (subscription) and Robert Cringely (RSS feed).

Breakingviews: "While it's possible Google's $90bn market cap has bred megalomania, there may be a method to this apparent madness. Indeed, Google's value isn't simply a reflection of investors' hopes it will remain the dominant search engine. They are also expecting it to branch into new businesses."

Some quotes from I, Cringely: "What the heck Google is up to is a favorite topic of conversation this week in high tech circles. It's just a hunch of mine, but with more than $2.5 billion in cash already on-hand, I don't think Google has any plans at all for that extra $4 billion. What Google WILL do is roll-out incremental products at a blinding pace. Not long ago, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin explained to me that rapid development is an important key to market dominance.
"What you want to do," he said, "is listen to your customers and bring out every two weeks improved versions that would each take your competitor two months to complete. That's when you are on a rocket -- they can't keep up so they can't compete. They lose hope and pretty soon you have the market pretty much to yourself."That pace of technical development, which probably isn't sustainable for long at any company, isn't POSSIBLE at all at more mature companies like AOL, Yahoo, and especially Microsoft. Google likes to play the Black Box game. What are they DOING in all those buildings with all those PhDs? I'm sure they are doing a lot that will change the world, but just as much that will never even be seen by the world. For the moment, though, it doesn't matter because Google can play the spoiler. Google likes being a mystery, too. Microsoft is totally obsessed with Google because Bill Gates is obsessed with Google. In a way, Bill needs a bogeycompany like Google to motivate the troops, since they are no longer being wowed by Microsoft's stock performance. Not long ago, I spoke with someone from MSN who said the mood there was so tight that his co-workers were acting like mad dogs."

The August-September harvest from Google:
  • WiFi in New York and San Francisco
  • Firefox toolbar (from beta)
  • VPN
  • Agreement with NASA
  • Introduction of Blog Search
  • Expansion of Google Print
  • Trial of offline ads
  • Introduction of Google Talk
  • Acquisition of Android (mobile software)
  • Expansion of Google Desktop

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