Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

The Google Zeitgeist and the walking dead...imho

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 29, 2005

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Google_Desktop.jpgGoogle's transformation, into a technology- enabled media company that publishes ads around software, is incredibly impressive.

Have you used Google Desktop and some of the other apps it has developed? I repeat: what is going on at Google is extremely impressive. And so is the acceleration of its business model.

And that is due to the company's ability to quickly create self-organizing business development teams, all leveraging a shared and scalable computing platform.

Not only that, Google seems to be able to integrate newcomers, be they individuals or companies, at record speed.

Yes, some talent walks out the door in such mashups; but there is much more walking into the company. And Google gets the newcomers integrated and productive faster than any other large organizations that I can see. You can see the results in the suite/catalog of software it has already built.

I think it is game over for a lot of companies now; and I think Microsoft is one of them. Unless it makes Office free right now, this minute, and figures out the business model later if it has to.

The game changed and nobody told Redmond

I think that a lot of people in Silicon Valley understand full well what is happening: that the game has already changed, and that there are new rules in play. People like Ray Lane at Kleiner Perkins, Joe Kraus at JotSpot, and many of the software engineers in the thousands of startups here, all of whom know what I'm talking about.

But I'd still like to spell it out, just in case Redmond is confused. Give away Microsoft Office now so that you can corral the largest populations of users. Even if you don't understand the business model yet. Do it now.

Then re-architecture your software business as fast as you can along the lines of the AJAX-type hybrid new client-and-server software architectures emerging --and sell ads around it. And you might get away with some monthly subscription revenues for some products, for a little bit at least.

Redmond flat earth society

It's probably too late for Microsoft anyway. It continues to state the importance of the PC over PDAs-cell-phones-or-any-lesser-enabled-digital-device. This is quaintly last century, a type of modern flat earther argument--not in the Friedman sense of course--but in the clueless sense.

In some ways, it is touching to see such steadfast loyalty to a cash cow that created a lot value for our global society, but is, quite probably, fading fast. That cow still looks fat; but we know that cows also produce incredible quantities of methane.

[My apologies, dear readers, for the distasteful image this metaphor may have sparked, especially if you are eating while reading.]

Am I unfairly harsh on Microsoft? This is all cheap digital ink. It's Microsoft shareholders who will be the harsh judges; and some valid question from them might be:

  • How did Microsoft lose the desktop?
  • How did the senior management let Google, and others too,take away the desktop and the apps?
  • Why did you invest the billions from the only profitable business group you had, and build many unprofitable businesses and ignore your core franchise?
Those are fair questions, I would think.

...To come: Part II on the Google Zeitgeist. . . [BTW, if David Krane or Ray are reading this, my invite to the Zeitgeist thingie seems to have been eaten up by my spam filter, so if you could resend that would be wonderful...thanks!]


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