While everyone is running around pointing fingers at Google's latest initiative 'Knol' and some worrying that Google is going to take over the entire world, maybe it's time for a little retrospective.
Google has managed to maintain (and grow) their leadership position by staying 'flexible'. They change dynamically with the times. In this environment, that can mean daily.
When you achieve huge success, there will ALWAYS be people taking shots at you, or worse, anti-trust shots. The fact is that Google was the first to recognize they could engage the community right here on the Internet. It was a huge step forward. They monitized almost everything they did along the way, and only gave away what they had to.
Microsoft and Intel - In different ways, Microsoft and Intel, once dubbed 'WinTel' by the 'attackers of the time' managed to make their way into the pockets of almost everyone in America. Whether it was in your car or on your desktop, they were there. For the first few years, it was called business success. Then came the lawsuits.
They were under heavy attack and they spent millions (billions?) fighting legal battles and allegations. A few of which, I suppose, were legitimate. Most were born out of the lack of resources (financial and otherwise) to compete. IBM in years prior felt the same heat but in a different way.
Where were the challengers and visionaries? Any company, with the right people, and the right financing can compete. That's what capitalism is all about? Despite what you might read, there's plenty of capital out there for the right company. The VC gang is trying desperately to find that company.
Although I do believe that greed continues to be one of the biggest problems in our society, this piece isn't about greed at all.
Microsoft, despite recent initiatives 'could' go the way of IBM. They won't go away. They'll remain strong. They could stagnate. Maybe it's an over-simplification, but the reason seems obvious. From shirt sleeves to multiple levels of management. From the ability to embrace change rapidly to cautiously entering markets that are already heavily populated. Maybe they should just 'lose the suits' and go back to tee-shirts?
Wall Street needs a heads up too. The first dot-com crash was a result of analysts that had NO CLUE. I'd like to think it's a lot better now, but when Microsoft buys a 'little piece' of Facebook and the stock takes off for the first time in years, you have to wonder, just a little.
There are more than a few incubators out there looking directly at Google. Heads continue to roll at Yahoo and AOL. The 'founders' are back at Yahoo. Can they take on Google? Better yet, should they?
Companies needs to lead, not follow. Visionaries like Jobs and Case (and others) seem to be able to come back, whenever they want, and turn a company around. We need more of these people to level the playing field.
When people attack and sue, lawyers get rich and the stockholders suffer. There is no productivity (or job creation) at all.
The winners for this year no doubt will be Apple, Google, and yes, Wal-Mart.
Think about why. Then re-write your business plan for next year....