Web 2.0 and the Future of Pervasive Computing

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sneaky Google "News" Mashup

Google is undoubtedly the hottest company on the web. As mashups are all the rage, I have decided to do an ongoing mashup of "news" about Google and brainstorm about their direction. For this first installment, I am just going to try to jot down a couple facts and links to get the creative juices flowing and see what pieces of the puzzle we have to play with. I will follow up with a synthesis soon.
  • Changed the name of Google Desktop Search to Google Desktop
  • Created a unified login for Google Services
  • Has roughly $7B in cash
  • Has over 20 services from search to mapping
  • Acquires Picassa, Keyhole, et. al
  • Begins to implement rich client functionality and personalization online
  • Hired former BEA software guru Adam Bosworth and x-BEA J2EE guys
  • Hired Semantic Web guru and former Netscaper Guha
  • Reportedly 64 data centers with over 100K machines
  • Purchases large amounts of dark fiber
  • Creates WiFi service with "Secure Access" service
  • Rumored to be bidding on purchase of AOL division of AOL/Time Warner
  • Rumored to create "portable" data center: 5000 processors, 3.5 petabytes/box
  • Partnership with Sun Microsystems
  • Announced commitment to developing Open Office
On a high level, it is obvious that Google has embraced the vision of the web as a platform and is actively moving to become the Microsoft of this net-centric new world. In order to accomplish this goal they are quickly creating the services and infrastructure necessary to fuel a web-based computing platform. The next steps will almost certainly be to create a set of services with a productivity bent, as well as moves to create an integrated online experience. Also, do not be shocked to see Google make the leap from consumer-oriented services to enterprise services in the near future. As software infrastructure becomes increasingly commoditized with open source, I think we will see the lines blur between the enterprise and the rest of the world. I have more thoughts, but unfortunately, I also have to work! Tune in for more on this topic. If anyone feels like contributing facts, theories, and other information to this little thread--go for it!

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  • At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    As spoken by the inimitable Clayton Christensen in this month's HBR there are two ways to use a brand:

    Recommendation Brand: Marriot's various price point varied hotels, all under the recommendation of the Marriot brand.

    Purpose Brand: One task (portable music) and one brand, 80's Sony 'Walkman.' that delivers on that purpose with various products and generations.

    Much of my vexation with the current speculation about Google is that perhaps their most lucrative franchise is the vertical purpose of "find things for me" and much of the Uber-Google speculation is about a recommendation brand, Gmail, productivity, etc.

    Your proposal that Google is aiming to be a broad recommendation based brand is certainly viable; I think current shareholder interests are best served by a vertical 1 purpose brand however.

    So while you can cite a litany of anecdotal indicators of a major disruptive platform push I think there are still serious strategic inhibitors; as such the probability of a major 2.0 platform push hinges upon establishing a new radical value vertical. In the recent HBR case this was Crest's move into White strips, a space dominated by $500 dentists visits now available for $25 at home. The sort of subscription driven network compute offerings we can both imagine as their business might not rival even 25% of their ad revenue and growth. Why take away brand focus on the most important task users 'hire' Google to do when no rival task is as lucrative.

    Finally, yes, recommendation brands, and brand line extensions are useful competitive blocking weapons, even if a category doesn't yield a huge NPV, owning it can take away a competitors ability to enter.....MS MS MS etc.

    "Finding things" online remains the most lucrative job people hire Google to do. As such I think they remain vertically branded for the immediate 3 year future. Whatever engineers they hire they are ultimately more accountable to their brand than almost any other part of their business.

    James Watters

  • At 11:53 PM, Blogger Hooman said…

    Intersting thoughts James. I definitely will ponder that as I am synthesizing and mashing together "news." I will say this, issues like the one you mentioned are now definitely going to slow down their progress towards a unified platform as Google is now a slave to the Street and has to answer to analysts driven by quarterly earnings.

  • At 12:12 AM, Anonymous glendale real estate said…

    You really have interesting thoughts James but i think Google still has a long way before reaching these goals.


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