The immaturity of huge masses

Over the past few months Google’s power has become increasingly apparent. From its humble roots as yet another search engine to becoming the coolest search engine to selling advertising along with searching to mapping Earth and to its spectrum of innovative services, Google’s evolution was a slow (by some standards) but an extremely measured path.

Google’s mass is actually the most important issue. Just like stellar bodies, there comes a point at which the gravitational force of a successful business’s accumulated mass becomes so enormous that it starts to collapse into a different realm of business physics.

Depending on the initial conditions, businesses, like stars, can collapse under their own weight. The real question is this: Is Google really like Microsoft? Sure. Google is almost as powerful, but what it isn’t, so far at least, is willing to bend the rules in the ways that Microsoft has. And so far, it has kept its behaviour clean and fair.

At least, it had until the CNET thing blew up. In case you missed it, Google seemed to lose its collective minds recently and got annoyed with CNET for (so it is claimed) Googling Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. In fact, Google was so annoyed that it decided to not talk to CNET for a year. So there CNET, take that.

If that were the complete story I would be appalled that Google could be so childish, but unfortunately I don’t have the complete story. I’ve read everything I could find about the fracas and it simply doesn’t make any sense. What was it about the information revealed that Google considered inappropriate? Why won’t Google explain its thinking? Anyway, if Google indexed that information, how private could they have considered it to be? Questions, questions, questions.

As neither side in the dispute has come clean on specifics, we, the great unwashed, can have no opinion. It is simply a spat between two companies, both of which should know better. In CNET’s case, its lack of a real explanation is bizarre. In Google’s case, its actions and lack of explanation are bizarre and indefensible, but quite in keeping, returning to our stellar metaphor, with having gone over the business event horizon.

So is Google becoming evil? I doubt it. Just like Microsoft once was good and then became the company we know and love today, success and immaturity evolved together. No matter how smart some key employees might be, the fact is that it takes only a few children to turn a smart young company into a stupid old company.

If we’re lucky, Google, by virtue of its strong internal culture and its traditional “Do no evil” philosophy, might be able to reestablish its maturity. If it doesn’t do that quickly, however, it runs the risk of becoming like Microsoft; not truly evil, just hugely immature, self-aborbed and willful.

QuickLink: 059204

–So who’s your daddy? Tell backspin

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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