Google has no secret plan
posted Mar 17, 2005

Hey look. Someone else is predicting that Google will user their super-mega-ultimate-supreme server farm to replace your PC's operating system.

That sounds familiar.

I do not buy it. Let's look at some of the arguments:

"Google has hired OS experts like Rob Pike and Marc Lucovsky! Clearly they are toiling away on the Manhattan project of OS research, which will culminate in some kind of...SOMETHING! Some kind of something which will sweep Microsoft from the face of the earth!"

A more likely scenario is that Google does indeed perform OS research, but not for you and I. For themselves. Their clusters use a custom filesystem. They run linux, but it's been modified from the original Red Hat. They need (and can attract) smart folks to build and extend these systems. But it's all for the benefit of storage and search. They didn't hire Rob and Marc to work on giving you online spreadsheets. Sorry.

"Google uses wowie-zowie javascript for Gmail and Google maps! Clearly this is the harbinger of their browser-based OS-like-thingy!"

I think they use javascript because it works well. It's one step beyond html. Like any other technology-driven company, they'll use the best tools they can, even if those tools aren't mainstream yet. I've looked at the source code for both Gmail and Google maps, and I believe they are two entirely different projects, run by two separate groups. The goal of one is to make a good web-based email service. The goal of the other is to make a good online map service. I find it difficult to fit those pieces together into a master strategy. I think they evolved independently.

"Google has invested in native clients like Picasa and Keyhole maps and Desktop Search! Clearly this is an aggressive move into the consumer application space!"

Well, that's partly true. But Google isn't primarily interested in selling consumer apps. I think Picasa and Keyhole were acquired because Google wants to own delivery channels (browsers) for data that doesn't currently have a good delivery channel. Html data is delivered by a web browser, and it's probably a bit late for Google to own that. But Geographic data (the real thing, not road maps) has no browser, except either a full-blown GIS system or a lightweight client like keyhole. Photos on your hard drive have no browser (unless you have a mac).

I think Google desktop search was kind of a fluke. Something they could do fairly easily (right?) with some market opportunity (because windows default search blows). A low-investment play that incidentally forced MS and Yahoo to play catch-up.

Let's talk about business strategy. It's fun to imagine that Google has some awesome master plan for controlling all computerdom. But I have a simpler theory that I think fits the evidence:

A) Google cares first and foremost about web search. Most of their architect-level employees will be working on making search better. I think one of Google's big shots said something similar right out loud. Search is what they do.

B) Google cares secondly about new kinds of search. Book search. Place search. Image search. Discussion group search. Product search. Email search. Because they have an advertising model that can be targeted to most any type of search. (Google also cares about new kinds of search because web ads may not work forever.)

C) Google cares thirdly about interesting new things. These come from employees. Depending on which source you believe, Google employees spend either 10% or 20% of their time working on personal projects. (Update: It looks like 20% is the correct number) The really successful projects get publicized via Google labs. Google maps started as one of these. I bet Gmail did too.

I'm especially interested in (C). 20% is a lot of time. Would your company willingly slash 20rom its developer-hours? Why is this important?

For one thing, it's the world's best marketing department. Those Google labs projects don't generate much revenue, but they draw mindshare like crazy. How often does your company announce something genuinely new and interesting? Because of the constant bubble of percolating personal projects, Google enjoys near-constant online buzz.

Would your company sacrifice that 20 evelopment time if it meant they could fire the entire marketing department, spend $0 on web advertising, and still boost their media coverage?

That 20% is also key for attracting talent. Working at Google has a lot of perks (so I hear), but for a developer, the ability to work on personal projects is magic. To my knowledge, no other company offers this. (Update: My knowledge is sadly limited - see comments)

Finally, those outside projects (call them lab projects, personal projects, forever-in-beta projects, whatever) are a powerful competitive weapon. Microsoft probably understands that the real competition with Google is (A) and (B). But I bet they're focusing way too much thought on the projects from (C). From a competition point of view, (C) is a feint. (or maybe it isn't! ha ha!) Put another way, it's fire and motion. For instance, Microsoft is working on a new version of IE. MS will need to test their browser against Gmail and Google maps -- arguably the most complex websites in existence -- and God help them if their new browser breaks those sites. For anyone who has spent hours testing code against IE, this is delicious irony, sweet and savory.

So that's my theory: There is no secret replace-windows master plan. Google is just a smart company with a solid business strategy, an understanding of their core competency, good talent and a few tricks (simple tricks!) for leveraging such talent.

But this theory could be wrong. If Google creates some kind of OS of the gods, I'll happily admit my error :)

Update: With the release of Chrome OS, I happily admit to being wrong.

Comment by tlord
posted Mar 17, 2005

Bravo.

I'd have to eat these words to, if Google really does come up with an "OS of the gods," but I think you've hit the nail on the head, in particular about the non-altruistic point of giving employees lots of personal-project time. There might be a time when there are no more (obvious) projects that everyone will be excited about, but the two projects you name have become -- beta status or not -- the best of their respective kinds, so far as I can see, and might be worthwhile to google even if their main benefit was as an recruiting tool. (Aside: if only google maps would give directions akin to the "line drive" vectorized directions from MapBlast, the world would be a better place ...)

Comment by daniel
posted Mar 18, 2005

although, how sweet would it be to run a "local google" - and i mean a real GFS cluster, not some crappy 1u yellow server.

Comment by Rick
posted Mar 18, 2005

You forgot about "Google Deskbar" which includes a preview of Google's own internal web browser, which if you try it, you quickly realize is quite fast and incredible compatible. So they also have written their own internal web browser.

Comment by Stefano
posted Mar 18, 2005

the world would be a better place ... If only google maps worked for the rest of the world, and not only U.S... ;)

Well, guess it will be the nex step... Can't wait.

I agree with the article, anyway...

Stefano

Comment by Emily
posted Mar 18, 2005

Ahhh, what a world it would indeed be if anyone working on IE had to test their browser against something else. Is MS really in that position? Or is it Google who will rewrite the Maps code to work in their new browser?

Comment by Ian
posted Mar 18, 2005

"For instance, Microsoft is working on a new version of IE. MS will need to test their browser against Gmail and Google maps %97 arguably the most complex websites in existence %97 and God help them if their new browser breaks those sites. For anyone who has spent hours testing code against IE, this is delicious irony, sweet and savory."

It's a typical Microsoft tactic to purposely break competitors' software, antitrust suit or no antitrust suit. They did it to Lotus 1-2-3; they did it to PC-DOS; they did it to WordPerfect. I'm not sure why Google would be any different. The biggest advantage I can see for Google is that because their software is web-based, it can be fixed very quickly which might not make it worth the risk of being slapped with another antitrust suit.

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

"A more likely scenario is that Google does indeed perform OS research, but not for you and I."

check your gammer

Comment by marc
posted Mar 18, 2005

"20% of their time working on personal projects"

In my mind, it's not that much. If your company says you've got 20% for your projects you 1. are productive in an intersting way 2. not spending it on slashdot, or pr0n

A bargain!

Comment by Basti
posted Mar 18, 2005

I stumbled on your text and it was quite refreshing to see that someone has a theory about Google that doesn't involve global-domination and/or something that Orwell would come up with.

I personally have similar opinion about Google and their tactics. They fascinate me, their way of making everything simple as possible, yet useful. Then there is their general motto of understating on features of their products and then over delivering.

What I didn't know is that they let developers work 20% of time on personal (or however it's called) projects. I think that it is great idea and I hope that one day I could do something similar in my development company.

Comment by Mike Purvis
posted Mar 18, 2005

Very thoughtful and interesting -- thanks!

Comment by Anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

"check your gammer"

As soon as they get done checking out their elderly women (gammer)... I'm sure that they'll get out their English books and check their /grammar/.

Comment by Cyberjared
posted Mar 18, 2005

"...the ability to work on personal projects is magic. To my knowledge, no other company offers this."

I agreee with this article, but I wanted to offer another piece of info on the idea of granting employees "personal projects". 3M has done if for a long time. That's where StickyNotes come from. It was some guys failed project to make a super glue, and wa la: StickyNotes. So anyway, just to add that Google isn't the first to see the light in allowing creative freedom on the company's dime.

Comment by Mystified
posted Mar 18, 2005

I'm still unclear as to what exactly is Google's business plan? Are they planning to just sell ad space and search placement? Are they just going to mimic the Yahoo! model and simply try to do it better.

Personally, I think it makes massive sense to build a "desktop" stack of applications delivered over the internet and with centrally stored, encrypted data and to sell that service on a recurring subscription basis. If the apps worked across platforms from my laptop to my cell phone and provided easy access to the knowledge of the world, I would seriously think about paying that monthly fee (provided they did not spam me with targetted ads or sell my PII).

Comment by Anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

People surf at work for various reasons, but surfing is inherently less satisfying than working on something cool. At least, if you have ideas and like to build them it is. And those are the only people Google wants to hire. Get it?

In my mind, it's not that much. If your company says you've got 20% for your projects you 1. are productive in an intersting way 2. not spending it on slashdot, or pr0n

A bargain!

Comment by appleworkitbaby
posted Mar 18, 2005

"'check your gammer'

'As soon as they get done checking out their elderly women (gammer)... I'm sure that they'll get out their English books and check their /grammar/.'"

Remember, Grammar, and Vocabulary are two very different things. They're not ment to be confused.

Comment by Jason
posted Mar 18, 2005

If the 20% inventive time is such a big advantage for google, why can't microsoft, apple, oracle, yahoo, and all the others just copy that part of the corporate culture?

Comment by decipher
posted Mar 18, 2005

""A more likely scenario is that Google does indeed perform OS research, but not for you and I."

check your gammer "

Peck your shelling? :p

Comment by alex rojkov
posted Mar 18, 2005

the 20% thing is awesome, when I had worked for my previous company I've taken a few fridays off to work on something that I was really interested in. At google, I would not have to spend my vacation to work on something cool!

Comment by youlameass
posted Mar 18, 2005

Dude, what a LAME-ASS google story. Way to take the opposite of what everyone says just to be opposite. I should call you Michael Moore, you duche bag.

Comment by Jey
posted Mar 18, 2005

"You forgot about "Google Deskbar" which includes a preview of Google's own internal web browser, which if you try it, you quickly realize is quite fast and incredible compatible. So they also have written their own internal web browser. "

I don't think that's a custom web browser. It's most likely just the <a href="IWebBrowser2</a>> that comes with Windows and IE.

Comment by Marc
posted Mar 18, 2005

<i>"That 20% is also key for attracting talent...To my knowledge, no other company offers this."</i>

JBoss does.

Comment by noyoulameass
posted Mar 18, 2005

"Dude, what a LAME-ASS google story. Way to take the opposite of what everyone says just to be opposite. I should call you Michael Moore, you duche bag."

It is just his opinion. You are not required to agree, just as the author is not required to agree with all the insecure dumbasses that thinks google is going to take over the universe. If you don't agree, maybe you can post a constructive response, in an effort to continue the discussion, instead of making personal attacks against complete strangers over the internet.

Comment by Joe
posted Mar 18, 2005

And I was kinda hoping for a thin client workstation. Lotsa advantages, as has already been stated elsewhere.
I think that any company that can produce an office suite (Borland, for example) could pull this one off. Didn't Sun create an office suite written in Java? Should be a "relatively" minor task to move the Java from the client to their servers, and abra cadabra, you have a web based office suite.

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

"3M has done if for a long time. That's where StickyNotes come from. It was some guys failed project to make a super glue, and wa la: StickyNotes."

Oh please. <i>Everyone</i> knows Michelle from <a href="Romy> and Michelle</a> invented the glue for post-it notes.

Comment by Jay
posted Mar 18, 2005

"Dude, what a LAME-ASS google story. Way to take the opposite of what everyone says just to be opposite. I should call you Michael Moore, you duche bag."

You gotta wonder sometimes what provokes people to write such stuff. I also am willing to bet this guy never actually watched a Michael Moore film.

Anyway, I too just want to say great job on the article. When I read the cnet article the other day, I had to laugh at how over the top it was. I'm glad somebody wrote something from a different point of view. Maybe it will cause some people to calm down now.

Comment by Michael
posted Mar 18, 2005

You may be right. However, I also believe that at the end of the day it's all about the mighty $$$. In order for a business to be perpetually successful, it needs to gain a solid customer base - a customer base which is devoted to the service provider. In order to achieve this; one can sell the best cookies, or a phenomal line of clothing or even better ... give something away for free. Google is giving away its web search for free. The Google search brand is the ultimate search engine on the web. Everyone uses it, everyone knows about it - those who claim they don't are only in denial with themselves because Google defines web search. Look and behold: Google all of a sudden has a dedicated, devoted customer base for its web search service. What is the logical next step? CAPITALIZE on the customer base. How is Google going to do it? You do not know, I do not know. The only one to know is Google. But I am sure that they will at some point in time propose to their clients something that .... is not free - unlike their search or gmail. Web search and gmail are standard hooks to get clients - because whoa its for free - but once you have them hooked, sell something and customers will buy. In the business world, nothing is for free - sooner or later, the customer will pay $$$ - if not directly, then indirectly to the companies which will sell their product to Jane and Joe next-door...based on whatever Google is working on. Oh and yes, Google is not in the business of making web searches. It's in the business of making money just that at the moment, they are building themselves millions and millions of potential future customers. And of course all of this is just my little humble opinion. I'm one of the millions of Google users when I need to search the net - and I can't wait to see what they may be coming up with next - heck, perhaps I may even buy it.

Comment by Fred Hapgood
posted Mar 18, 2005

I'd love to see Google release a mapping project that was wiki-compatible. All maps are saturated with errors, and these of course accumulate over time. There really is no economic way to correct these errors centrally. A map that accepted corrections from local people would have much more potential. The uploaded texts could include a lot more than just corrections, too -- descriptions of landmarks, graphics, even photos.

Comment by h3l1c0pt3r
posted Mar 18, 2005

'you and I' is ok if the speaker is royalty (Old Ye English gRammer).

20% is great, I think I spend that much time at home napping to recover from mental exhaustion at work. I'd much rather do exploratory work if my employer let me (oops, I forgot, I'm a consultant!)

Google is trying to be a good citizen (and a good corporate citizen who plays nice with Microsoft, the Big Bully!) I agree with the story (anti-plot-to-take-over-the-world).

Time for a fresh OS on 64-bit, like Microsoft Windows version 2.0 taking over OS/2 when IBM was trying to push the PS/2 platform. I wouldn't look to Google or any current players. Best minds are those of our children, they see new way to use computers; whereas, we are stuck in the rut of the past and the tyranny of the present.

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

<blockquote> Best minds are those of our children, they see new way to use computers; whereas, we are stuck in the rut of the past and the tyranny of the present. </blockquote>

Our children, eh? Great. Let my daughter design a fresh 64-bit OS and the killer apps will be "Strawberry Shortcake" and "Little Bill" games, and some sort of computerized chemistry set.

Comment by andy
posted Mar 18, 2005

I was going to mention 3M had 20%-time, but they beat me to it.

Guess I have nothing to add then, might as well give props for the great article.

Cheers!

Comment by daves-insane
posted Mar 18, 2005

Actually your article is somewhat depressing, but unfortunately rational and sane. Google makes money on ads - end of story. There are discussions on why google news page is in a perpetual beta status - because they have not found ways to turn a profit on it - yet.

Comment by emphasyst
posted Mar 18, 2005

To look at the contrapositive question. If Google is not developing the Web desktop could if still be developed? Perhaps as a co-operative effort with - Google owning search (and mail?), - MicroSoft (or Sun) owning office, - TextAmerica owning photo storage, and the whole thing tied together by some new focus that lives in the desktop browser and "seamlessly" integrates.

Where do you trust your data to exist?

Comment by Noiprox
posted Mar 18, 2005

No it is not. 'I' is used when one is the subject of the sentence, 'me' when the object. In that case, he was using himself as the object of the sentence, so it should have been 'you and me'. Anyone who thinks relaxing grammar rules, being unable to spell and having a tiny vocabulary is more modern should look up 'Decadence' in a dictionary.

It seems (though I may be wrong) that the time has not yet come for rich web application suites sold through a subscription plan. Sooner or later someone big is going to try it, perhaps Microsoft with .NET. I'd rather it be Google than Microsoft, but I'd like most of all if it were decentralized free software instead. Subscription model, fine, but rather pay some smaller local company than some titanic Orwellian corporate entity.

The 20% time for personal projects thing at Google is a very good idea, I agree. It may even enable them to innovate more and thus keep pace better with startups that may eventually threaten it. Bill Gates has often expressed fears that Microsoft may ultimately be threatened or even toppled by a startup that had a good idea!

Linux is already comfortably 64-bit, and has been for ages. I don't know with certainty, but I have little doubt that BSD can run happily on 64-bit architectures as well. So, why not just use the great free operating systems that are right under our noses? A proper operating system and surrounding software takes years to develop, and requires an investment of many millions of dollars. It is not so simple to make a "fresh" one!

Future generations will be stuck in ruts of their own past and will create tyrannies for their own present.

Comment by shubert
posted Mar 18, 2005

I dunno man - a library of GoogleXML can't be too far away, especially if they continue to invest in acquiring public domain items and indexing them, and acquiring dark fiber and setting up new server farms. As the major portal for search they're well positioned to be Big Brother.

The consumer will click 'yes' when Google offers the download. The google map is great, but what if you need to download filter templates for various demographic data? They'll probably offer such things because the demand is there. Yeah - I see them as real world-class developers.

This is America right? Then all computing companies have this goal, and Google is the sucessor to M$ because it knows where everything is. Becoming a de facto standard Library is more powerful than becoming just a de facto standard. Google aims at the whole spectrum.

Comment by Sam I am
posted Mar 18, 2005

All I can say is, whether or not Google intends to build some web-delivered OS, somebody SHOULD.

This is the kind of stuff me and my geek friends have been planning for, dreaming about for years. I remember I used to stay up late at night talking to my brother (while trying to fall asleep) for hours about building a new OS that was completely distributed, trying to figure out how to access all of your data & apps from say, a memory stick, or some portable device so your files etc are always with you, always accessible... if someone can pull it off, it'll be AWESOME.

I'd much rather have this kind of technology come from Google (with a reputation for building clean, simple, working products) than some other company like M$ (with a reputation for building crap and charging an arm and a leg).

The only thing I haven't heard anybody talk about yet is integrating the new web-OS with a pair of holographic screen sunglasses or contact lenses so you can geek out and access all of your apps through your cell phone or PDA, in 3D with a projected holographic type display... now THAT will be cool.

Comment by Tim Swanson
posted Mar 18, 2005

Couple of notes:

First, several companies require that employees work on other experimental projects for long-term growth. 3M is perhaps the most well-known and best case-study as they depend on this policy as their life blood. This is enshrined in their corporate philosophy found here: http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/_l/en_US/_s.155/116713/_s.155/123521

Also, the main reason Google uses HTML and JavaScript (i.e. Dynamic HTML apps, aka AJAX) is that nearly every browser supports them fairly well -- because they have been around for a very long time. Source: http://news.com.com/Will+AJAX+help+Google+clean+up/2100-1032_3-5621010.html?tag=nefd.lede

Comment by MattT
posted Mar 18, 2005

What about Google selling subscription services with whatever simple/complex applications or even plan searching features to network service providers..

Then the ISPs and network service providers of the world would offer google as an additional service to customers..

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

"Everyone uses it, everyone knows about it - those who claim they don't are only in denial with themselves because Google defines web search."

I disagree. I think there are a lot of great search engines out there, Google has just built a following that the others have not yet. I think Google is doing a great job and will continue to focus on search, but to say they are so far ahead of everyone else is no longer true. MSN, Yahoo, Clusty, and others have caught up and have surpassed in certain areas Google. I actually like google-watch's stripped down search engine.

Comment by Jparker
posted Mar 18, 2005

On an interesting note related to (C), Fred Brooks (Mythical Man Month) gave teh programming keynote at last year's GDC, and in it he stated the you should do exactly this: give employees 20% (his number too) of their time to use on pet projects. He listed all the reasons you did, but his main point was that the other 80% of the programmer's time is going to give you incremental improvements, but for the really cool, breakout stuff you need to let smart people play.

Comment by xyz
posted Mar 18, 2005

"for you and I" You need to improve your grammar.

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

"Gmail and Google maps %97 arguably the most complex websites in existence" !!????!!

Comment by RichB
posted Mar 18, 2005

Gmail and Google maps %97 arguably the most complex websites in existence

ha ha! You weren't serious? There are many more websites more complex than GMail and Google Maps - and most of them aren't even publically accessible. For example, I know of a website which contains 4 Megabytes of Javascript - you read that correctly.

GMail and GMaps are not the most complex, but they certainly are amongst the best executed dynamic sites around and competitors should be scared because of Google's ability to execute.

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

Though I don't know about the rest of Microsoft, the Powerpoint team also lets people spend 20% of their time on personal projects.

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

What is it with you Google-zealots?

Do you think of colored letters when you jerk off?

Idiotic article.

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

"I'm especially interested in (C). 20% is a lot of time. Would your company willingly slash 20% from its developer-hours? Why is this important?"

Can also be phrased as: "I'm especially interested in (C). 20% is a lot of time. Would your company willingly DEVOTE 20% from its developer-hours to self directed R&D which can include anything from directly applied R&D on topics they feel are ignored to "basic research" R&D or to blue sky (i.e. long term) R&D".

This is one reason I think Google is worth their share price of 160$ or so.

Comment by anonymous
posted Mar 18, 2005

If you find GMail and Google Maps to be complex (the most complex sites in existence?!?) you must have very little actual web development experience. They are indeed nice. They are indeed cool. And they are indeed a bit complex. But quite frankly, I've been doing the "Ajax" thing for the past five or so years. Too bad I didn't think to give it a cool name and patent it or Google and Adaptive Path and everyone else would be owing me tons of money now. Why everyone is acting like GMail is some sort of uber-web application that took a million man-years of development and is most certainly the fifty best things since sliced bread is beyond me.

Comment by A Nony Mouse
posted Mar 18, 2005

Actually, Intel allows employees 20% of their time (within business capabilities) plus a paid sabatical every 7 years.

Comment by Dan
posted Mar 18, 2005

Google does get constant attention from internet users, which is probably why google maps is better known than www.map24.com using mapsolute technology... which is far superior. They have marketing DOWN.. and will most likely stick to marketing, using any necisary methods.

Comment by dendrite
posted Mar 19, 2005

Nice article. Finally! Its about time someone wrote something level-headed about Google that got a lot of circulation.

To reiterate the points I loved: * Of course they're not putting out a consumer OS, they're a search company! * They do nifty things and are very consumer-focused, but they're not out to make it easy to share your damn spreadsheet. * They could do a better desktop search without even thinking too hard . MS search blows so bad and their failure to fix it with service pack was a laughably bad failure. WinFS meta-storage doesn't have to be their solution....they could of tried something simpler/effective in the mean time. * 20% is a nice recruitment point and comes up with lots of cool stuff. Its worth it in so many ways.

Comment by Greybearded One
posted Mar 19, 2005

<p>In the '70s I was a systems programmer for a university. We were given roughly 20% for our own projects as well. For larger, more interesting, projects we often were able to recruit other programmers to use their time as well to create project groups.</p><p>I know the university environment is quite different than the typical commercial environment, but I remember how rewarding it was then. Having free reign of mainframe and minicomputers to do nearly anything we wanted at a time when most people had no access at all to computing resources provided strong employer loyalty.</p>

Comment by DaveR
posted Mar 19, 2005

The way our brain works is like a huge search engine. What Google is making is AI, not OS. And personally, I think that they will be in the forefront of the next big computing revolution.

Have you noticed that nothing really new has been developed the last few years? Everything I see is improvements and fine tuning of existing ideas. But very soon, the processor power available will allow the computer to become not a completely dumb tool, but a device that can actually be just a little clever. And that will all be about search and pattern matching.

Web search is one of the simplest and most obvious search areas. But by extending the techniques, your computer can begin to foresee your needs ("You received a party invitation from Jenny. I guess you want to cancel your plans to visit your parents... Should I update your calendar right away?") and become interesting for interaction in e.g. games.

So forget the OS. It's old stuff.

Comment by vardhman
posted Mar 19, 2005

Nice article. That 20% time is a real cool stuff, and that is what makes all of us dying to get in to Google. I do hope they make there products more global as some one pointed out.

But I really didn't understand the Idea behind their code project. http://code.google.com any explaination for their involvement in this would be interest to hear.

Comment by Sean Plaice
posted Mar 19, 2005

Nice treatment of the "what would google do?" question. I agree with most of it but choose to humbly sit back and watch instead of actively speculate personally.

Two things I wish people would take note when they do speculate on google are: 1) Hiring OS researchers, and doing OS research does not mean you are making a OS. Rob Pike is a good example, and his former colleges Dennis Ritche and Brian Kernighan are perfect examples. When they were at AT&T's Bell Labs they developed Unix not as marketable platform but for internal use and research use. When they developed the opertating system they were actually forbidden to by an agreement with the government that they were not to enter the platform market. (this of course changed later). The jist is operating systems research is good for any large technology company especially when your goal is to develope niche technology for niche problems and requirements. GFS being a perfect example, anyone who has read the white paper for GFS should realize that GFS is only useful for specific requirements, hardly something that would be useful to 99% of the worlds technology users.

2) Google "users" are not "customers". Google search, Gmail, Froogle, Google Groups, etc. Are all full featured services that users get full access to free of charge. Google makes their money by selling up adwords to the customers, the marketers, that want the users eyes. I think this is an important destinction between google and other companies in their market. They understand the level of brand loyalty derived by offering things with no strings attached. They also respect their users with the relevance system for adwords, instead of blanketing their users with ads from the highest bidder (ala overture, and yahoo) they will drop ads that get a low click rate to ensure that what ads are there are relevant. This doesn't make them more money from ads, but it respects their users by making sure the ads are relevant.

Google understands the "mob" that is the internet user base, they know that pissing them off means they will use an alternative. If they start treating their users as a potential "revenue stream" the users will notice this, and then google becomes just another yahoo.

Comment by bigbq
posted Mar 19, 2005

So, where's everyone getting the 3M idea? Seems like they "promote innovation," but it's much more structured

via <a href="google,> ironically enough</a> "20 percent of its R&D budget is spent in its 14 technology centers. They focus on longer term technological developments for new markets that can take five to 10 years that division labs cannot". Neither many Google searches, nor 3M's website show any such program.

Post-its were certainly not developed as a personal research project, but rather the innovation of one employee in the 76.2% of his time that's his by default anyway. The adhesive was part of an internal project to create superglue--spare time yielded != company giving time to employees for projects.

And for the anal retentives who posted about grammar...unless you didn't understand the post, shut the fuck up about the finer points of the English language. Everyone caught it, no one particularly cares.

/"longer term" should probably be hyphenated //can't start sentence with "And" /// "/" not valid grammar, either.

Comment by CeeTee
posted Mar 19, 2005

If you think this is cool, you HAVE to see this flash file Its 8MB but worth the download. It tells you all how Google would TAKE OVER (very nicely narrated)

http://www.idorosen.com:80/mirrors/robinsloan.com/epic/ols-mattrobin-flash.swf

Get it. Watch !

P E A C E !!!

Comment by Dustin
posted Mar 19, 2005

I have to agree with your overall conclussion. I would like to see Google get into some sort of web based application delivery system as much as the next person, but I am not quite sure if it will ever happen either.

Great article though!

Comment by Tim
posted Mar 21, 2005

As one person said above, it's nice to read an article from a different point of view. Personally I agree with all of your points. :)

Comment by James MacAonghus
posted Mar 21, 2005

I agree. I have posted similar thoughts <a href="here</a>,> <a href="here</a>,> <a href="here</a>,> and <a href="here.>

Comment by Mike Lambert
posted Mar 24, 2005

Also, I've written similarly on how I see <a href="Google's> future playing out</a>.

Comment by uncool
posted Aug 21, 2005

You guys are all missing the point of this! It doesn't matter what Google intends to develope, nor does it matter if their future services will be free of charge. The interesting point is that in certain aspects, Google is becoming a significant competitor to software giants like Microsoft and Sun.

Competition breeds innovation and we all want that, right?

Comment by Yves
posted Nov 25, 2007

what if google was to use the Ubuntu OS for, say, build the ultra cheap pc with all their apps inside (I mean native Linux apps) and all their services on line ready to go? The Google PC, all your basic computer/communication needs without the price and MS troubles. Sounds good to me!

Comment by Anonymous
posted Aug 28, 2009

Guess you were wrong.

Comment by oli
posted Nov 03, 2009

lol everything u said was wrong

Comment by Satya Prakash
posted Feb 16, 2010

I have also thought of something about Google plan and written a post recently: http://www.satya-weblog.com/2010/02/googles-secret-plan-be-a-data-center-of-whole-internet.html