Saturday, May 26, 2007

Google's successor will not be the new Google

Robert X. Cringley is making a habit of being wrong about Google. This time he tackles how Google will be superseded. The real answer is far closer to the scenario outlined in the comments to the article - proving yet again that the blogosphere is far more valuable when considered as a conversation, not a medium - by someone called David Christie, who I am guessing is this Perth-based consultant:

So the challenger that will unseat Google (eventually) will have to be an open source creation. Nothing else can do it. Whatever it is, it will have to turn the web inside out, by moving control from giant sites like out to thousands of smaller sites, binding them into an effective non-proprietary counterforce for the delivery of distributed (as opposed to centralized) web applications and services.

In short: Microsoft Windows was unseated by TCP/IP, so Google will be unseated by whatever open source protocol supersedes the Google OS. The main reason that ex-employees are not dangerous, as it was for Microsoft, is that the incumbent actively militates against its own employees eating its lunch. By locking in their workers with non-competes, owning the IP on their 20% projects, steering those 20% projects towards being G-features rather than G-killers, and making life extremely comfortable to the level of a human-sized cocoon, Google is trying very hard to ensure that ex-Googlers will have already spent the peak period of their working lives inside the 'plex and won't have much to offer the world afterwards.

At this stage, BitTorrent looks like the most likely ancestor for the coming messiah, though the peer-to-peer model will have to go through a fair few iterations before it can support the sort of mashup of SETI, X3D and the Metaverse that might knock the big G off. So what do current Google employees have to do with any of that? Bugger all, most likely. I seem to remember there was a lot more mainstream focus on the W3C and the ISO in the last boom, but I see standards organisations, not startups, as being the midwives for the next big change that will make Google as irrelevant as Microsoft is today.


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