The Economist on Google


Here is a very interesting article on Google, where they are going, and why the company worries so many people.

Google is often compared to Microsoft (another enemy, incidentally); but its evolution is actually closer to that of the banking industry. Just as financial institutions grew to become repositories of people's money, and thus guardians of private information about their finances, Google is now turning into a custodian of a far wider and more intimate range of information about individuals. Yes, this applies also to rivals such as Yahoo! and Microsoft. But Google, through the sheer speed with which it accumulates the treasure of information, will be the one to test the limits of what society can tolerate.

It does not help that Google is often seen as arrogant. Granted, this complaint often comes from sour-grapes rivals. But many others are put off by Google's cocksure assertion of its own holiness, as if it merited unquestioning trust. This after all is the firm that chose "Don't be evil" as its corporate motto and that explicitly intones that its goal is "not to make money", as its boss, Eric Schmidt, puts it, but "to change the world". Its ownership structure is set up to protect that vision.

Competitive advantage erodes a little faster all the time, especially on the web. As Google begins to suffer from diseconomies of scale, it will be interesting to watch how the company deals with it and how the media responds.

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