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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Google Ain't No Netscape But Larry And Sergey Are Not The Next Gates

John Battelle writes that Google ain't no Netscape. As many have pointed out, it's looking more and more like the next Microsoft, in terms of business model, talent, and riches.If Bill Gates had a magic shaving mirror, one that showed him 20 years younger and in fighting shape, he'd probably peer into it and see the image of Larry Page or Sergey Brin. Microsoft is indeed a fearsome competitor, with extraordinary resources (and I don't mean the $50 billion in cash, I mean the ability to leverage Windows). But it's a middle aged company that moves far more slowly than it did ten years ago, when it first recognized the Web threat. And even if it wants to move, which I am sure it does, it's uncertain as to which way to go: it's got a massive legacy to protect, and an uncertain path forward.Microsoft faces an enormous chasm crossing moment: Windows is becoming simply another layer in the Internet application stack, eroding its lock in leverage over time.And Google? They've got hundreds of thousands of servers around the world running a proprietary, Linux-based operating system that serves up billions of queries a month, and is now being adapted to serve mail, blogs, photos, satellite images, and Lord knows what else. Google has a very distinct *architecture* advantage, not just a brand and user loyalty advantage (though it has that as well). John adds, that it's not the case that MSFT (or AOL, or Yahoo) can't prosper in this space, or even "win" in the long term. But crush Google a la Netscape? No friggin' way. The only thing that can kill Google is Google itself, either through growing too fast, managing too poorly, or failing its customers in some catastrophic way. On a related note, NYTimes writes,Microsoft will stress the size and completeness of its service, according to several people with knowledge of the expected launch of new MSN search announcement.Currently Google, the largest search engine, indexes about 4 billion Web pages, 880 million images and 845 million Usenet messages. The service is used by almost 82 million people each month, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Microsoft has been pursuing a Web portal strategy with its MSN service with little success. And, like Yahoo, Microsoft has been attempting to muscle in on Google's strong revenue growth. Google more than doubled its revenue and profit in its first quarter after its initial public offering, underscoring how rapidly the market for online advertising has been swelling. "I think Microsoft is a couple of years from doing anything serious, but it's a reminder that the big bad evil beast is out there," said John Tinker, an analyst who covers Google for ThinkEquity Partners, a small investment bank in San Francisco. Dave Winer on this topic writes that joke to think that Larry and Sergey are the next Bill Gates, when Gates was younger, he was a constant evangelist, deal-maker, BOGUer. He'd do anything to win. Larry and Sergey are, by comparison, cloistered, insulated, aloof bordering on arrogant. They're smart, but in an academic way, which isn't the same thing as being smart in a commercial way. All their second acts have been duds, they're still lookiing for another hit. Also, they pick the wrong battles to fight, ones that have no bearing on their success. And they're really shitty at building consensus behind a developer platform, something that Bill excelled at, in the old days, when he was trying.
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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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