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What If Google Tanked?

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Slate has an article that is sort of humorous and sort of scary, telling the story from the future of how Google failed spectacularly over the next few years.

Best line:

Google had also lost its “don’t be evil” cachet ever since founders Sergey and Larry had purchased a Boeing 767-200 and crashed it into Coit Tower while doing barrel rolls over the San Francisco Bay. They survived, but their reputations and that of their company did not.

The article makes some very good points, ones that Google should consider for its future. Probably the best one:

Google, as users of its desktop search had learned, wasn’t good at writing client applications.

Even if you like some of Google’s rare applications, you need to realize that Google’s downloadable software has yet to show any of the richness, depth and innovation of some modern software products. While Microsoft is reinventing the user interface in Office 12, simplifying with more features, Google is trying to reinvent it with less features. Its precisely for that reason why Google bought Picasa, because they knew how to make good applications.

I have an idea that can help Google with this: Buy AOL. See, Google and Microsoft are fighting over AOL for the popular search engine and advertising capabilities, but AOL has the best-kept secret in the software industry: their software applications guys are among the most talented I’ve seen.

Go to beta.aol.com and install AOL Explorer. Not only is it one of the most advanced browsers on the market, with more out-of-the-box features than any browser (except Opera), but a new version hits every two weeks with new features, and each version has a smaller memory footprint than the last, something unheard of in software development.

Or you could install the new version of Instant Messenger, AIM Triton. AOL’s newer, talented team built a brand new application so they could kill off the old, bloated version, and it works very well. Tabbed IMs, tabs within IMs for video, audio and file transfers, multiple people per IM, multiple accounts in a single program, and a universal address book with Plaxo, which integrates with Outlook. Google Talk may be quick and small, but AIM Triton is powerful and not a memory hog.

If Google bought AOL, not only would it safeguard a large portion of its ad revenue, but it could integrate the entire AOL team into its software development. AOL has built an advanced, consumer-friendly search engine over Google’s, an advanced browser over Microsoft’s (which can jump to Firefox in a second) and advanced IM by replacing AIM.

AOL could give Google the ability to create applications that can compete with Microsoft, while Google can kill off some of AOL’s already lessening bad habits. If Google wants to rule the world, they can’t do it all by themselves.

(via Alinobairro > Findory)

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

Visit the InsideGoogle blog.

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