Google celebrated its tenth anniversary this month having come a long way in just a short decade. Bloggers wonder if it was the smart strategy, or the open playing field.
Om Malik of Gigaom wrote that building on the infrastructure turned out to be a winning approach: “They talked about using commodity compute infrastructure to out muscle everyone and doing analysis of the Web like it has never been done before. It seems so obvious today — but back then it was an idea ahead of its time.”
Charles Cooper of Coop’s Corner pointed out that Google did have the benefit of an unrivaled space: “Yes, [Microsoft] was growing fat and happy thanks to the incredible money machine that was DOS… But Microsoft also had to contend with the likes of Lotus Development Corp., as well as WordPerfect, Borland, Ashton-Tate, Novell, and others… Microsoft’s dominance wasn’t guaranteed and the company had to claw its way to the top of the heap.”
Yet Cooper added that a decade in the business is still too early to tell: “[Schmidt] also knows that Google at 10 occupies a stronger position than did Microsoft at a similar point in its history. Neither Microsoft nor Yahoo have found a way to upend the search business. So that leaves the economy and the likelihood of a Martian invasion as Google’s two biggest potential challenges. As for Google at 10, who cares? The better story is Google at 20. If past is prologue, that’s going to be something to behold.”
David Vise of Technology Review Blog wrote that history might well be repeating itself: “Google’s 10th birthday coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Justice Department’s antitrust suit against Microsoft, which forced the giant to compete with one hand tied behind its back while Google raced ahead. Now Google is replacing Microsoft in the crosshairs of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, due to the dominance of its online ads and search, and a proposed ad pact with Yahoo, its biggest competitor.”
Nicholas Carr of Rough Type wrote that producing digital products has been a cheap business for Google: “Google faces far less risk in product development than the usual business does. It routinely introduces half-finished products and services as online ‘betas’ because… even if the offerings fail to win a big share of the market, they will generate advertising revenue and produce valuable data.”
But Carr finds Google’s approach a little unsettling: “God or Satan? When you control the economic chokepoint of a digital economy and have complements everywhere you look, it can be difficult to distinguish between when you’re doing good (giving the people what they want) and when you’re doing bad (squelching competition).”