Over on Razorshine, my old pal Kanani has been shopping – in the real world – and hoping that Google would help him. As the organisation dedicated to ‘…organi(sing) the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” this is perhaps not an unreasonable expectation. Especially when, as Riaz says, the new Westfield Shopping Centre has linked to Google Maps to show us how to find them. Ah well.
It raises a question that someone asked me a couple of weeks ago over a pint – and which has come up several times recently: is it possible to go up against Google and win?
Privately, many inside Microsoft would say that perhaps it isn’t – at least for Microsoft.
So if you’re going into business doing anything around the ‘organisation’ and provision of information, does that mean you should pack up and go home?
Google does an outstanding job most of the time – but they are not perfect, or infallible. And, for all their 16,000+ employees, they still cannot do everything. At least, not all right now. Pick the right one of those areas and you’re in business… perhaps.
Then there’s the new semantic search technologies that are touted as the foundation of a ‘web 3.0′ world. Google, of course, will play in this sandpit, but it’s a different approach to presenting information than that which is hard coded into Google’s corporate psyche, so the jury is not quite in yet as to whether they’ll rise to the challenge.
Of course, there is also the entire ecosystem that has sprung up around the way Google makes money. One friend of mine calls this ‘feeding the monster’. Shopping comparison and much affiliate marketing could be described as falling into this bucket. And it’s a healthy one, even in a downturn.
But one of the more interesting perspectives is coming from a book I’m reading at the moment – Randall Stoss has published a near-insider’s view of Google in ‘Planet Google: One Company’s Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know” ( I link to the ebook, but you can get it on Amazon too). And it’s a compelling view. Doubtless I will mention it again over the coming days.
It’s curious in how it compares Google’s ‘open’ view of the world with the essentially closed environment that social networking (well, mainly Facebook) is once again introducing to the web.
Just as Google wins the legal battle to index the content of pretty much any published book it likes – and extend beyond the virtual world – it’s curious that its biggest threat may well come from the web itself. Food for thought.