Friday, November 13, 2009

Successful Innovative Companies: Volume 6

The Successful Innovative Company of the week is: Google.
What they do right: They made the internet what it is. They made a source of information. The internet was cool before but this took it to another level. You could search the world and actually find what you wanted to find. They took a moderately competitive market and fixed the errors. Ads were smaller and all in text. There was a focus on text and not images. Their googlebot.com managed to connect everything and make it searchable. If you don't remember, it was hard to find things ten years ago. Not every website seemed to be on the same internet. Now it really only matters if you are indexed by Google. That's what it means to be on the internet: searchable by Google. Had they stopped there and just sold ads and indexed websites they would still be great. However, they saw other possibilities.

Then came Gmail. At first it was a staggering 1 GB of available space for your emails for free, now it's over 7. The mailbox has easy inbox and archive features and the star feature for important emails. Again, had they just done that it would be the best out there, but they linked it with a new chat feature Google Chat. Instant messaging and texting are slow compared to the speed of Google Chat. It also saves conversations in your archived emails so you have records. They also linked a calender to the email so you could see upcoming events. Then they released a new program Documents. It is possibly the most simple word processing device that has been created in the last 10 years but for simple writing and editing text it is great. For collaborations between multiple authors a single document can be edited at the same time and is updated about every minute. It tracks the changes and can show you what different authors changed. As far as producing group papers this is such a useful tool.

Their stable of products, and mostly free products is really staggering. They have Blogger the world's most popular blogging program. They recently came out with a fairly popular phone. They rule internet marketing by developing industries like search engine optimization and Adwords.

Aside from all of these technical innovations they have managed to create a new corporate system. I have a friend who had an internship at Google. They have a free cafeteria and games and all sorts of on site employee benefits. My friend said that he stayed there up to 14 hours a day. Obviously not working the whole time but the culture was such that everyone just hung out there. Wether that attitude in the business world is catching on is hard to say. With the current recession I would guess that most companies aren't giving out free lunches every day.

What they could improve: This is hard because I am afraid of Google becoming too powerful. They are so good and so connected to almost everybody that if they chose to wield their power it could be a bad situation. In the world these days it is hard to know where the balance of efficiency and fair are. If there was only one search engine people used it would be fine as long as you were on it but if you were not on the search engine then you would be invisible. It is the age old monopoly problem. On the other hand, the web of the internet has grown so much that a company could be spread by Facebook, email, and other networking systems so that very little of the traffic to that site would come directly from Google. Also, with the advent of smart phones and netbooks the internet is beginning to change. I think in the future it will change even more to perhaps pieces of thin flexible plastic that are just connected to the internet. We shall see how Google responds to this new era in the digital age.

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