Whenever I read an article about Google and their services, I am reminded of a very wise paper I once read about Nutella, a hazelnut spread with a chocolaty taste on which most European kids survive until they’re old enough to switch to hard liquors. In other words, it’s all about the brand.
Yet, what we often forget is that Google got to this rank through a subtle combination of technology, public relations, politics and hard work, four elements every single company can attempt to deploy. Apple, for example, could decide to become the next Google tomorrow: by throwing enough billions of dollars at the venture for a long enough time and hiring a few key people, they could potentially make it — not that they would want to do it or would have anything to gain whatsoever from it, of course. On the market, people and engineers are, sadly, like cans of beers: you buy them, stock them in the fridge (or cubicle) and take them out when necessary so the operation is at best complex and costly but never impossible.
How come then we all see Google as the ultimate search engine Microsoft can do nothing against? Because, I believe, of its brand. Like the wise author I was referring to above once said “everybody can manufacture Nutella but no matter how hard they try, kids will still think it’s the best”. Google has managed to emerge as a search superpower while Microsoft’s image as a corporate superpower is crumbling fast, unrelated to the real financial and political reach of either corporation.
Everybody says Microsoft managed to impose Windows 95 not because of its superior technology but because of its evil corporate tactics. Why, then, would Google manage to impose their services against those of the dark empire based solely on their accuracy? Has the Internet suddenly gotten reasonable? Or are we just preparing ourselves some funny reading on Archive.org?