Saturday, May 5, 2007

Google Vs Non-Google

Today news surprised me. The talks are on for the largest merger in the IT history, the Microsoft and Yahoo merger. The long time rivals are coming closer day by day, and Google is going strength to strength.

Last time when Balmer was in India, he was asked who actually his primary rival is. His answer was very harsh. He went forward saying just Google is just a search engine, and iPod is an island. So, his primary rival is Apple. No one was satisfied, me too.

Ballmer was asked again, whether Google poses any threat to Microsoft dominance. He said, "NO". According to him, there were many companies who came in the history too who were thought to take away leadership from Microsoft like SAP, Yahoo etc. But they had to stagnate at a point. They actually did.

Well, just few weeks after Ballmer's India visit we got news, an agreement between Yahoo and Microsoft on web. They were to facilitate their customers with more flexibility in using each others product. We could add MSN id in Yahoo messenger and vice versa. It was surprising news for me and many others. The question was what made the deal happen?

The answer is nothing but "Google".

Krishna Gopinathan, Global Analytics' CEO, had an interesting story to tell. Once he made a visit to his parents with his son, Keshav. Keshav's grandmother asked Keshav, "Who knows everything?". While Keshav was thinking, she gave him a hint. "G", she said. Then she gave him another hint, "O". Then Keshav said "Google?". She, of course, was expecting, "God."

“Google” by all means is the strongest brand name on Earth today. It has broken all records in a very short period of time. And it is all because of their strong social commitment and far sighted business model. They are still far behind Microsoft in terms of product strengths but the difference is, people admire Microsoft and love Google. Love is always the major driving force for any individual whether he accepts or deny. And Google has been able to place itself there.

I was an MSN user few years back. My regular email Id was a Hotmail one and I used to chat with my friends on MSN Messenger. Later I had to migrate to Yahoo due to some additional features like offline message and more space. Then Hotmail account just had 2MB and Yahoo had 25MB.

Later in 2002-03 people started talking about GMail with 1 GB space. I was excited. I needed one. One of my friends sent me an invitation and I joined. Then no looking back. I got all I wanted from Gmail and Orkut. Then I went forward using Blogger for blogging. Now I am using most of Google’s product including Youtube, Google Reader, Google Notepad, Picasa Web Album, Google Adsense etc.

Now the scene has changed for mailing. Almost everybody is providing lots of space. But I am not ready to go back to Yahoo or Hotmail. Simply because I love Gmail, and my association with Google is so strong that I can hardly imagine my life without it. Many of my friends feel the same.

Now coming back to Google being just a search engine, I would say Google’s revenue source is just the Search Engine (majority) but Google is much more. If anybody else gives the same benefit or more, it is simply because of Google. They don’t have any other way.

I have one bitter experience with Sony. I bought a Sony Vaio Laptop with Windows. Many software packages were given for free including Windows, some from Sony, some from Microsoft and some from Sonic. But while I use that software I often got messages like license expired, buy full version, update software etc. and all these required some dollar from my wallet. I didn’t have enough to buy all those, and I decided to go to Google. Google and its partners (from open source) had all for free. Now, I use Mozilla Firefox, Avast Antivirus, McAfee Firewall, Google Package etc. I am happy with these packages now.

Google has actually empowered the Open Source while keeping its business fundamentals strong. And there is nothing for Google to lose. It can only gain from partners or from competitors.

Now, a war is going in the web space. And it is not between Microsoft vs Google or Yahoo vs Google, but it is between Google and partners vs Non-Googles. And Microsoft and Yahoo merger is going to make it more intense. But I can hardly see MS Yahoo winning this war. If economy of scale was the factor then even today Microsoft and Yahoo both are ahead of Google in terms of revenue. So they can do many more than what Google does.

Microsoft and Yahoo have different strengths, and their business models are different. The merger will bring best of both worlds. But the path will not be a cake walk. It will have lots of integration problems. I remember Coke buying Thumps up in India (then Thumps Up was number one drink in India and Coke number two) just to make Pepsi number one. So I expect a hard path ahead for MS Yahoo, if the merger takes place.

Whatever happens in the corporate circle, we the customers will benefit. MS Yahoo will have lots to offer to us to down play Google. I won’t be surprised if one day Windows and MS Office become free under the brands Y Windows and Y Office, and we see advertisement on the side bar of a Word or Excel. Then MS versions will be the paid versions for the Yahoo ones. Well speculation can be many. Lets wait and watch. All the best MS Yahoo, and thanks Google.

7 comments:

Spectator said...

i would like to add one article on this discussion.

Acting like several CPUs in one, the Cell will be able to power multiple operating systems at once, as well as bear the heavy computing load that a single system can place on the CPU. These past couple years have also seen significant shifts in the direction that computers and their operating systems are to take. Phones, computers, gaming systems, and entertainment centers are becoming more complex, more integrated with each other, and the distinction between these devices are becoming more and more blurred. Modern operating systems are reflecting this shift as well, supporting VoiP, integrating audio and video with IM and email, etc. With the maturity of the cell processor, tech manufacturers have the opportunity to combine these functions completely on a single home machine, with dedicated processors or cores for each task, and perhaps dedicated operating systems--or environments--to enhance task performance and simplify the interface.

As hardware complexity increases, a simpler, more elegant and straightforward computing interface will likely emerge, separating media from computing, design and multimedia work from office work, with all tied to the Web. With multimedia and gaming relegated to their own places--all of which can operate simultaneously without interfering with one another (thanks to Cell)--there is no need for one beastly, complicated interface to control them all. Each environment can have its own simple, straightforward interface, and the Cell will ensure ease of mobility between environments without disturbing the workflow of any particular environment.

Enter Google

This is Google's specialty: a simple, easy to use interface, accessible to all levels of users. Though there is no indication that anything like this is in the works, one can easily imagine a streamlined Google OS on its own hard disk partition, separated from the entertainment, gaming, and media production environments. In addition to Google's signature services—a high-powered internet, media, and local disk search engine—it would likely consist of an office suite, a lean web browser, and various other applications and utilities. Consider the technology already at Google's disposal. Start with the world's best search engine with access to the largest body of searchable information and media. Add Gmail: a clean, javascript-based application, stored on a server, accessed via the internet, from which a user can not only compose, read, organize, and search their email, but also quickly access Google's search and other services. Now, look at Google News: a world of online news sources, which can be customized to an individual users preferences. Throw in Google's desktop search, the Picasa photo software, and Firefox (Mozilla and Google have significant overlap in their employed workforces) with live bookmarks, and cool research extensions such as dictionary and thesaurus lookup, linky, launchy, and the like. Extend all of this technology to typical desktop applications like office software, then combine them all into one interface and bundle the OS. Simple, powerful, and totally Google.

Let's take it one step further. Imagine that all of this software—like the Google search engine, Gmail, etc.—is stored on Google's notoriously well-backed-up servers and operates at relatively high speed with any internet connection, thanks to its simplicity and javascript code base. Supported by unobtrusive (sometimes even helpful) ads, and hosted on a distant server, this is free, convenient, and accessible from ANY computer, anywhere, anytime. Additionally, you have the world's best IT department working on your behalf to protect your software, its accessibility, and its security. No viruses, no worms, no corrupted disks.

Let's say they go even further: Google gives you, say, 1000GB on their servers, hosts all your data (with multiple levels of permissions), and provides everything mentioned above, and extends their video search (currently in beta) to provide access to a wealth of streaming audio (like iTunes radio) and video. All of it is free, all of it is easily accessible through a powerful, extensible web browser, and all of it simple and easy to use (it's still Google, remember). What are the implications of such a system? First, no more purchasing software (at least not the consumer grade applications hosted on the server); second, companies actually competing for your business (Google would surely be followed by the other major players); third, your work is finally mobile.

Students can more comfortably use computer labs, knowing that everything will be right where they left it, no matter what machine they use. You can replace a machine without copying and reconfiguring everything. Any web-enabled computer can handle most home users' desktop computing needs with relative consistency. You can experiment with or switch to a new operating system (Yahoo, MSN, .Mac) without buying a new machine or partitioning your hard drive. Ads--not consumers--pay for consumer-grade software, and since more apps will be web-based, you can try out these proprietary programs on any machine at no cost, and without the process of downloading and installing. And, as creepy as it may sound to leave your data permanently on a server, this would actually be more secure than the data on many computers out there today.

Now for the fun. Right now, open source programs like Firefox boast some killer extensions that make browsing a lot more fun and a lot more productive. Imagine the kinds of plug-ins and extensions one could write for this Google OS, were it based on open standards (this past week, Google released much of its code as open source, and posted some key APIs at code.google.com). Perhaps you mouse over a URL, and a preview of the page pops up in the corner. A couple mouse clicks or a keyboard shortcut puts a graphic or media clip from the web right into your slide presentation. When working on a research project, you can bookmark sites of interest right into the outline of your paper. Or imagine a database of freely-downloadable music, from top artists, television shows, news videos, etc., paid for by inconspicuous Google text ads.

Every user could have a personal database where you can put information about yourself, with varying permission levels. Anytime your screen name shows up in an email, a letter, a website, mousing over it will preview your data. If someone not in your access list does this, it merely shows a link to your home page. For those in your address book, it shows your full name, location, a flattering picture (maybe it's even one of you!), and links to your blog and your favorite websites and activities. For certain close friends and family members, your phone number, IM account, and email address popup, so they can communicate with you instantly with one click. Any document you create can be instantly uploaded to a community database, indexed by Google, and accessed by anyone, or only those of your choosing. And not just text documents and spreadsheets. Oh, no. Posters, magazines, songs, animated shorts, even feature-length movies! All powered by software hosted on the servers, paid for by ads just like the ones you already have in your Gmail account and your Google searches. And for projects requiring professional software running on a studio machine, the server can still act as a central storage area—tied to a webpage outlining the project details and timeline—where files can be checked in and out as various project members work on them.

Conclusion

When taking a step back and soaking in all that has developed in the last couple years, it is not at all far fetched to hypothesize the kind of innovation and integration I have suggested, especially for a company like Google. Nor is it far fetched to imagine Google, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft, and others pushing each other towards and beyond such a goal. Personally, I am excited to see what will happen in the next few years. I am taken aback to remember when a word processor was its own machine, when software—and even the OS—ran off of floppy disks, when a computer didn't boot—it turned on, and when a monitor that looked as good as a TV was a big deal. But I'm truly looking forward to the time when I will be surprised to remember when a computer was its own machine, when software—and even the OS—was run off of a hard drive, when a computer didn't turn on—it booted, and when a TV and a monitor were two different things! All the indications are saying the same thing: the next few years in computing technology will not be merely a faster version of what we're already doing. It's time for a revolution. Simplicity, elegance, functionality. It works for Google; will it work for you?

About the Author:
Kris Shaffer is a musician from Chicago, IL, who likes to tinker with Linux, Mac OS X, and web design in his spare time. He has a Master of Music degree from the Chicago College of Performing Arts and will soon begin doctoral study at Yale University. His home on the web (including papers and recordings) is www.shaffermusic.com.

prabaharan said...

Nice article.... ya google is doin things far better than yahoo ...
and i am a lover of google ... but u know a factor for most ppl to move from yahoo to gmail is bcoz of the spam msgs that you recieve on your yahoo account....whenever u use a yahoo account for a registration purpose or using it as a primary id to create a gmail account u start recievin... i wonder whether such spam messages are generated by google itself.... so i created an yahoo account and a gmail using tht yahoo account... only then i started to recieve such spam msges on yahoo....where is google's service in preventin such spam msges is excellent...

aaustin said...

good articales and good blog too becoz i have found only few good blogs and more importantley bloggers in orkut adsense community

Anonymous said...

Well written. I am really impressed with the article content.

Manish said...

Excellent post! I admire it a lot, throws light on important aspects...

Chiranjeevi said...

Hi article is good .But it is better if u wrote it in a google's community.

Chiranjeevi said...

hi

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