Who's afraid of the big bad Google?
Apparently Bill gates and the 800 lb gorilla behind him named Microsoft. I was reading an article in Fortune magazine about why Bill Gates is afraid of Google. I think that perhaps Gates was right when he testified during Microsoft's anti-trust case that any 18 year old in their garage could put Microsoft out of business at any time. It is no laughing matter. Microsoft isn't as agile as Google and Yahoo, and innovation is no good if nothing comes of it. Everytime anyone thinks of moving into a space concerning search or online community, Google jumps right into it. Google knows that the only way for them to remain competetive in the long haul is to take its competition's heart. If Google is somewhere, no competing companies want to be in that place. No one can really compete with them in any meaningful way so everyone seems to be giving them a wide berth.
Except Microsoft. If Bill Gates is looking for a fight, and I think he is, then he will have it. Google is not Netscape, and they won't be bullied. Much of the highly touted Microsoft brain-trust is working for Google now alongside people who have been their rivals for years. You know that time you always wished for in high-school, when the kids who were bullying everyone since middle school get demolished by all the now grown up kids who won't take it anymore? Well, at first glance it looks like all Microsoft's enemies might be ganging up on it now. But upon looking deeper, you see a company that has never taken being behind as so tough. Microsoft is still scrappy, and if I were Google I'd be worried. Not that Microsoft can catch them anytime soon, Google is now and will stay out ahead, but I am glad that Gates is taking their existance so personally. Perhaps that will mean that Microsoft will finally stop being lazy and solve there product and direction issues. If they can get themselves together, who knows how strong they could become.
One of the issues facing Microsoft is the cool factor. Almost no matter what Microsoft does, they can never appear as cool to the internet elite. Still, Google is facing an uphill battle in the fight against Microsoft. They will have to hold it together through the ever changing environment of the web, and the ever shifting preferences of web denizens. All the while having an angry Microsoft chasing after them. Still Google can not allow Microsoft to smell blood, as it were, they have to remain cool, and follow my favorite quote from Sun Tzu – “To defeat your enemy without fighting, this is the true acme of skill.” Forgive me if I have butchered that quote, but you get the idea. If Google keeps doing what they are doing, and it can scale, then they will have nothing to worry about. They will remain ahead of the pack until another small startup with a great idea and a little venture capital can take the lead.
Search is a tough field to stay tops in for long. Google's search results aren't what they used to be. I often find myself scrolling through three pages of results looking for exactly what I want to find. The smaller www.alltheweb.com tends to do a much better job of returning relevant results. However this may not be true for all people as I am often searching for technical and programming terms.
In my humble opinion (IMHO) Google's size is hurting it the most. Having so many pages indexed is taxing their algorithm and it shows. Microsoft, while having approximately the same number of stored pages, but having much less trafic can return less relevant results than Google at lightning quick speeds. Still, if you search for something and can't find it, it doesn't matter if it is fast. Yahoo, I find does a good job of returning results, much of the time they are more relevant than Google and Microsoft, but still not quite as good as alltheweb. I am not sure what alltheweb's backend looks like, or if they are using someone else's technology. All I know is that it works. Still, Google local and their other “labs” projects are incredible, and Google groups is fantastic. I just hope that Google can keep this feverish pace of innovation up and force everyone's search projects to the end of their respective development roadmaps, much in the way AMD did to Intel.