Check out Google, huh... It's got us by the short and curlies, almost. Not only is it the best search engine by far - whereas I remember a time when we all got lost in the Yahoo Vs Altavista debate, and now they're half-forgotten - and offers features like Google Images and Google News, it's also slowly starting to become indispensible in other fields as well. Fields where others have innovated first, but the pre-existing status of Google in everyone's lives is detrimental to its eventual success.
I mean... Froogle! It's so useful, I only discovered it less than a month ago and I use it for everything! Now that online shopping is the way to go, Froogle is the way to go further and for less. Every single little thing I want to shop for I can find there, cheap and easy, and I can see who sells such stuff instead of guessing or relying on word-of-mouth for the best websites. Like, the other day I was trying to find 6B pencils... who sells 6B pencils? What kind of shops should I search for? Stationery? Art supplies? Office supplies? Naaah... that's useless... I just Froogled 6B pencils! (don't ask why:P)
And how 'bout Google Earth? Ain't it sooooo greeeat? Bluthan and I spend hours "travelling" around the globe or looking for our friends' homes, or even downloading user-made features for it and playing around with them. OK, it's still too early, and our house in Kingston is just outside London so it's all blurry, but it'll get there... And we found our parents' homes in Greece... We might have even been there when the satellite photos were taken! (Scary, huh?!)
There's so much on offer... The Google Toolbar - the only non-intimidating toolbar for one to add to one's browser, I install it after every hard drive format - and gmail - far better than hotmail or yahoo, however hard they try - and Google Ads - the easy way to make money online - and even, hey, Blogger! They caught up with the blogging craze too! So much of our web-related activity is hosted by Google right now...
Just like Richard Branson, back in the 1990s, who made sure Virgin was on everyone's lips, whether it was Virgin Radio or Virgin Airlines, Virgin Megastores or Virgin Mobiles... And they do so without scaring anyone away. Just out of the goodness of their hearts, one could say, and the cleverness of their enterpreneuring minds... Nobody's scared of Google - or Richard Branson for that matter. Nobody says "hey, Google's got it all, it knows everything about me, all my dark secrets and all my everyday routines"... Nobody makes conspiracy theories about it, like they do about Microsoft or whatever...
Is it because there's nothing there? Nothing to fear? Is it because they do it way too well? I don't know... What I do know is that some people, or some enterprises, every once in a while, show up to make our lives better, and just happen to make money in the process. Say what you will about the open market and the corporate world: these people deserve every penny they get - especially since they aren't getting a dime from me.
That's what's smart about it. It's the reverse of what everyone else does. Instead of offering money incentives to companies and enterprises and making the everyday man pay the full price, they offer us everything for free. And only people who actually make money from their services get to pay some of it back. Brilliant plan! So their every service becomes popular - it costs nothing to join, and they're even on offer when they're still in beta testing, so by the time they reach their full potential they're smashing... And by then, millions of companies around the globe need them to make money, easier, faster, better, or even just to compete. And to do so, they have to pay Google back. Them, not us. We can simply sit back and enjoy.