Don’t Do Evil: How a search engine became the business that could take down Microsoft.

I still remember the day when my younger, more tech-savvy co-worker introduced me to Google.  It was in 1997 while I still worked as a tech-support phone call person at my local ISP.  It was the simple interface and pretty colors that kept me coming back.  I knew nothing of algorithms and the like, I just knew I liked fast-loading, simple web pages.

Ah, the heady days of youth.

Google was my home page for years, and every time I did an installation for the ISP I would set their homepage as google.com.   To this day I still don’t know the appeal of this tremendously popular search engine. 

It was this uncanny appeal that let Google really corner out the search engine market.  And, unbelievably, the borg-like Microsoft didn’t seem to care – apparently not seeing a search engine as any kind of threat.   Really, who would?  A search engine?  Who cares?

I still remember the day that I started hating Microsoft.  I was only about 15 or 16.  Netscape had come out and changed my whole world, forever.  The Internet was something amazing!  I learned HTML and made a website of my own!  I could meet in a star-wars based chat room and be nerdy!  There were flaming pop-tarts!  Then Microsoft, in a maneuver that I felt was them trying to deny anybody else any kind of success, released Internet Explorer. 

Then bundled it with Windows, and in any way possible seemed to try to smother any independent thought.   That which they did not compete directly with they absorbed.  I think I cried the day hotmail vanished into the terrible maw of MSN.  The purchase of NBC only served to confirm my fears.  Subconsciously, CNN became the Netscape of television news in my mind.  When the X-Box was announced, I yelled to the heavens: “Why can’t you just let us be happy?”

Yet somehow, perhaps simply by seeming so small and insubstantial and unimportant, google survived.  Google became the norm for all searches.  Google became a verb.  Google expanded slowly, unobtrusively into new arenas.   

Then came the IPO.  I don’t remember this so much, because I had been out of the country for a few years.  I do remember that it was astounding.  Googlers became billionaires literally overnight as stock prices soared to the 400’s.  The cute little search engine became as powerful as a very powerful thing.  With power, however, comes responsibility.  Their motto: Don’t Do Evil managed to make some people even more suspicious. 

Google has been expanding quickly into new areas.  Gmail has caused Microsoft, the professional copycat, to scramble to implement windows Live Mail.  Google Video was created, but then they purchased You Tube.  This makes people wonder just how immune to Microsoft-like-evil Google really is.   Adwords produces over a billion dollars in annual revenue for the company.  With this tremendous wealth google isn’t just developing new ideas any more, it’s buying them. 

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to flail about in what appears to me to be a panicked kind of way, trying to do everything that Google does, but better.   So far, Microsoft seems to be failing, and my hopes are rising.  I hope that soon there will be a web-based office suite,  web-based financial programs,  ABC will become GooBC and every show will be free to watch on GooTube,  long distance will be free through Phoogle,  and gasoline prices will plummet as the alternative energy source, googaline, is introduced on the world market.

I think I may be a little over the edge, here.

The point is this:  It would be difficult to find a software product from Microsoft which could not be done by Google for free.  Google really could put the smack-down on the evil empire.  Obviously they’re not going to be making any operating system any time soon.  Clearly they have no interest in creating the Goo-box to join in the console wars.  But Google really could do some amazing things.  Listen to me now, Google:  Take everything you can from the people who want to charge us for it and give it to us for free.  Starve the enemy!  We will click your adwords!

Would this make Googlewicked?   Does this make me Evil for endorsing Google before they do it?

There are many sites online dedicated to the idea that Google has already given in to the evil that lurks in the hearts of all mankind.  Imagine what people would think if suddenly Google seemed to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft by producing and buying other people’s good ideas.  The only thing that could keep Google from evil at that point is by keeping the products free for use, just like the search engine and gmail.  Products that are completely original, like Google Earth, well a certain level of pay-for-play is understandable, but certainly not paying for something made by somebody else that was subsequently purchased.  The other thing that could make Google seem evil is if it does manage to do damage to Microsoft’s bottom line and thereby end people’s jobs.  Nobody likes that, but could it be avoided, really?

These are my thoughts.  It will be interesting to see what happens.   I, for one, feel fine letting Google search my whole hard drive, save my documents on google base, give me directions on google earth, and so on;  but many do not.  Do I have a false sense of security?  Are they being paranoid?  Only time will tell if the once-david-giant-Google turns out to be as evil as the evil-giant-Microsoft now poised for a fall.

-Greg 

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3 Responses to “Don’t Do Evil: How a search engine became the business that could take down Microsoft.”

  1. J Says:

    A simple rule; never put anyting on any computer that you want to keep private.

    I wouldn’t write MS off just yet. (Although I’d like to.) You can do a lot of damage when you’re sitting on $50 billion plus in cash.

  2. anah Says:

    Die Microsoft! Die!

  3. Cornelius Says:

    As long as Halo 3 comes out on schedule, I don’t care who absorbs whom.


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