Possibly the most important characteristic of web giant Google is their ability to think and act big. Thinking big is really hard to do but has made them the most successful web company in history. Google, the name, refers to the word Googol meaning 10100 which is a huge number. The name itself suggests that Google has the ambition to index the entire web. It certainly has made them the defacto Internet search standard.
This ability to think big isn’t that rare. Most web entrepreneurs that start a new venture think that they have fond the single idea to conquer all of the Internet, to become the next Google. Most fail too. It isn’t good enough to think big. You also need to be able to see the bigger picture, to understand it’s complex nature, to see what is needed. It is also important to understand the ecology of such matters, to understand that to have a big impact you need others to do that. And once you understand all of this you then need to execute big. And that is where the power of Google lies. It has become their second nature to think that way. And doing that they can amaze us all.
If you understand this about Google then it isn’t so hard to understand what they are up to now. Google is trying to become the social glue of the entire web. They are the first to acknowledge the power of socializing every application. Most web 2.0 companies have chosen a business model that forces them to become the number 1 destination site in order to be successful. Mark Zuckerberg runs one of the largest walled gardens in the world (if you exclude the mobile operators, they hold even larger walled gardens AND, unlike Facebook, make a whole lot of revenues on them). Almost every web 2.0 business model is based upon traffic and advertisement. That business model trap puts the entrepreneur in the destination mood. He’s got to build a large destination site to become successful.
Google has taken a different approach. Thinking bigger than the rest they leave the fight for social destinations to others (except for the search engine google.com, but they have won that battle long ago) and look at the bigger picture. Instead of having one destination to be a playground, they see the entire web as their playground. And if socialization is the trend, then Google will be the one that connects everything to everyone using their OpenSocial and FriendConnect projects.
And they are extending even beyond the web as we know it. The next addition to this playground will be the mobile device. Again, instead of building one super mobile application, Google simply builds a mobile operating system called Android. They create a whole new ecology, bypassing closed, walled garden. platform developments by the mobile hardware manufacturers. Who cares about Symbian, Windows mobile, or any of the other non-interacting mobile platforms. Google will try to open up these hopelessly closed ecologies and scattered mobile developments by setting a new open standard with Google’s Android. They are in the mobile game now, shaking up the industry as no one has been able to do (with the exception of Apple of course).
Just look at a few of the strengths Google has:
- They run the largest Internet infrastructure in the world, which includes not only huge data centers but also dark fiber connections. I doubt there are many bits traveling the web that aren’t passing Google infrastructure at some point
- They are the king of search, both on the web and mobile space. And accompanied by that they are the king of advertisement, taking some 75% of the entire revenue stream worldwide.
- They have Orkut, Google Earth, Google Maps, Picasa, GMail, GCalendar, Google Docs, Google Gears. And on top of that they have OpenSocial and Friendconnect, API’s to potentially unlock any popular destination site on the web. Resistance is futile, but even the mighty Facebook can’t resist this force much longer. Their feeble attempt to block Google’s FirendConnect will backfire on them.
- They are the king of RSS, with Google Reader and Feedburner, letting a lot of content flow through their network
- They have bought one of the best mobile teams in the world. People are always wondering about Google’s move to by Jaiku and then let the service slowly bleed to death. Let’s not forget that the early adopter crowd loved Jaiku at it’s peak, even though Twitter was way more popular. Jaiku simply had better technology and an incredible development team. And these people are now working within Google on who knows what. Best buy they have aver made probably. Who cares about Jaiku, Google has the team!
- They have created the Android mobile operating system. It isn’t there yet, but it will attempt to dominate mobile development due to its open nature. If all developers jump on Android and the iPhone, the rest of the mobile OS’es will be buried very soon.
Does that mean the competition might as well go home? Does it suggest that Google will take it all. No, of course it doesn’t. I even doubt there was a master strategy that has lead Google to all of this. But one thing is clear to me. All of this is due to their ability to think and act big. And it is really hard to compete with that. Google is getting ready to become the next “Operating system” on the web, including mobile. They have the infrastructure, technology, the capacity, the data, and people to do it. While this is good news for the web user, it is also scary to think that one company can have such a huge impact on our on-line life.