Friday, August 11, 2006
Google and Napoleonic France
In an article titled "The Alliance Against Google,", the Economist writes:
Prince Klemens Von Metternich, foreign minister of the Austrian Empire during the Napoleonic era and its aftermath, would have no trouble recognising Google. To him, the world's most popular web-search engine would closely resemble the Napoleonic France that in his youth humiliated Austria and Europe's other powers. Its rivals—Yahoo!, the largest of the traditional web gateways, eBay, the biggest online auction and trading site, and Microsoft, a software empire that owns MSN, a struggling web portal—would look a lot like Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Metternich responded by forging an alliance among those three monarchies to create a “balance of power” against France. Google's enemies, he might say, ought now to do the same thing.Now, analogies are no doubt useful, but the internet and the real world are entirely different spaces, and my feeling is that the biggest threat to Google will come not from any of the established behemoths, but from a company that may not exist now, or is under the radar. What is that company and what will it do? I don't have a clue. Who could have predicted Google ten years ago? Not Page and Brin themselves, I'm guessing.