Arrogance and the end of Google
When your company name becomes a verb, you can be pretty sure that you have done something right. To Google something has been a verb for quite a while now, but what happened to “wave” something or “buzz” something?
Actually it looks like it’s been a while since Google has done something really right. And to top that – it even looks like Google’s core business – the search – is being challenged: on one side from content farms and spammers and on the other side from sites such as Bing.com and Blekko.com that are devising new ways to crack the search nut.
And people are talking about it. A quick tour of some of the most authoritative tech sites shows that people are starting to doubt Google’s ability to fight the ever growing spam and content farm problem.
Somehow it looks like Google has been hit very early by the classical monopoly disease: Arrogance and a belief that you can do nothing wrong. For a couple of years it looked like everything Google touched turned into gold: They bought Youtube, and it became the biggest video platform in the world, they revolutionized email and gave people unlimited space and they kept on improving their search engine, so that they were always one step ahead of the black hat search engine optimizers.
No wonder that Google became a little arrogant. Why should you listen to anyone else in the world, when you could lean back in Googleplex, hire the best employees, give them everything they needed – including 20% free time to invent their own products, and just shoot out amazing free (but still profitable) products?
But during the last year it seems like the arrogance has boomeranged back on Google (as it always eventually does). Wave was a shipwreck from the very beginning – completely user unfriendly and impossible to understand. Buzz never became a buzz – except among a number of Facebook hating tech-geeks. And last but not least, the search engine results started to become more and more useless because of the millions of people around the world who are trying to game Google.
So is this the beginning of the end of the Google empire? Most likely not. Besides being the most used search engine last year Google was also the company that acquired most start-up companies, so if the Googlers themselves are running out of creative steam, they may actually be able to buy their way to creativity and business success.
But it does, however, show that Google’s monopoly power is based on a fragile foundation. People who have been on the Internet for more than 10 years remember how quickly everyone switched from the likes of Yahoo, Lycos and Altavista to Google’s far more superior search engine. The same thing could happen to Google, and the enemies are at the gates! We have Microsoft working on Bing.com, We have new start-up Blekko.com which also looks very promising, and then there is of course Facebook which more and more people turn to for product reviews and advice.
From my point of perspective I don’t think there is any doubt that the social graph is going to rule the way we navigate the information age in the future, and somehow it seems like Google – the best mathematicians and algorithm-smiths in the world – just doesn’t really get the social graph! They are in the numbers game – not the people game…