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Google to Win the Net: PubCon 2005

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Google, Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft. There are basically four major players on in the Internet world today. Few would argue much with that statement. Likewise, it’s no big secret that the actions and maneuvers made by the big four have a direct impact on practically every online business.

Google to Win the Net: PubCon 2005
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Editor’s Note:  Today marks the beginning of the Las Vegas leg of the WebmasterWorld PubCon tour. In the open keynote speech, given by Robert Cringely, the future of search was discussed, with Google receiving some very high praise. Do you agree with Cringely’s projections? Discuss this and other PubCon topics at WebProWorld.


Robert CringelyRobert Cringely delivered a very forward-looking keynote for PubCon Las Vegas, specifically in regard to what the future might hold for the big four and what that, in turn, might mean for the rest of us.

For example, there is AOL, among the oldest of the four. AOL had it’s beginnings as an ISP more or less. As Internet uptake mushroomed and households went online in droves, AOL grew immensely. Today however, as ISPs struggle to keep their heads above water, AOL finds itself in a position where it needs to transform the company. How are they doing that? Well, that seems to be anybody’s guess. Cringely doesn’t know and said quite flatly that he didn’t even think AOL knew what to do or where to go from here. They seem to be biding their time and waiting for a nice offer. In terms of the big four, AOL is looking more and more like a company who’s best days have come and gone.

Yahoo is a little bit different. Yahoo seems to be more focused on portraying themselves as more of a media company whereas Google for example, seems to be more focused on infrastructure. Yahoo’s prospects for the future seem to be better than AOL based on the fact that they are continuously evolving. Their interests and maneuvers into media would seem to be a safe better for future viability. Of course the biggest thing Yahoo has going for them might be the fact that Google and Microsoft seem to be worried about each other too much to really concentrate on giving Yahoo a hard time.

So that leaves us with Google and Microsoft. There have been plenty of quotes flying around about innovation from the like of Ballmer and Gates lately. Perhaps it’s Cringely’s Apple roots showing a little but he sees Microsoft as “quick adapters” more than innovators. “Office Live and Windows Live? Seems to me they are place marks” Cringely said, holding a spot for some future program that may or may not be ‘the next big thing’.

According to Cringely the clear-cut key player is Google. “Everything Microsoft does outside of Windows and Office are insurance policies and proxy services”. Not exactly a ringing endorsement I’d say. Of course, Cringely does have some old Apple roots, so maybe that’s to be kept in mind. It’s tough to argue with the facts though in some cases. Google is cranking out new stuff constantly. It’s not necessarily limited to just websites and novelty applications either. The Google search appliance is awfully good. You plug it in and it works. It’s secure, you don’t need a PhD to use it, and it will index your entire network of data and search it just like it’s supposed to. “Imagine if it were made by Microsoft” quipped Cringely.

Google wants to index the world’s information. When you hear it, you kind of laugh and then you stop and think about it. Cringely believes Google wants not only to index the world’s information, “Google wants to be the Internet” he claims. Google’s buying dark fiber and forming relationships with backbone providers. Google’s clustered infrastructure seems infinitely scalable. If a Google server goes belly-up nobody even notices, no services stop nothing.

Suffice it to say, Cringely sees a clear cut victory in the Internet brawl between what he perceives as the only 2 contenders for the title. When? “You will see this within the next 2 years” he predicted. I don’t know if we should start writing eulogies for the Redmond crew just yet, but experience is a great teacher and Cringely’s been here through all of it. We’ll have to wait and see.

Mike is a manager at iEntry. He has been with iEntry since 2000.

Google to Win the Net: PubCon 2005
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