Is Google the New Microsoft?

I just got an email from Google on a new “feature” that is integrated into the gmail client; called Buzz. At first glance this looks and feels a lot like Facebook. So it got me thinking…

Is Google starting to feel like the next Microsoft? Is this path something Google is consciously trying to do or is it just a path that is inevitable?

First, a full disclosure. [I like both these company's technologies. I used to work for Microsoft and I still have a Microsoft technology bias (but I do own a MacBook). And my primary email account is my Google account and I own an Android phone. Phew, so now that I got that off my chest here is what I mean.]

There are at least four ways I have seen recently that made me want to write this blog entry…

  1. Leapfrog Innovation
  2. Purchase Innovation.
  3. ABG (anything but Google).
  4. All these lead to one thing…can you say Antitrust.

Leapfrog Innovation. I consider taking a good idea and making better – innovation. I am all for companies that can make something better than their competition; whether they came up with original idea is just an excuse the losers use. Of course if you use your size and power as a way of strong arming your friends and enemies – that’s a whole other story. Certainly Microsoft had some questionable practices back in the day. My whole take on that was stop the “packaging” and just make your software kick ass.

Purchase Innovation. This is a perfectly legitimate way of larger companies using their size and power (aka capital) to buy an innovator or a market leader. One of the companies I started had as a hidden part of the business plan to get bought out. I used to talk to a number of other people who were doing similar things who would admit the same goal to me. Google is just the new guy with all the money.

ABG. This reminds me of the Anything But Microsoft movement 10 years (maybe more now). I think this just comes down to people not liking really big companies; probably because they don’t trust them as much or just don’t identify with them. In both cases of these company’s respective histories they have been underdogs and people heralded their greatness. Then at some inflection point all that changes. There is probably more written on this than I care to read.

Antitrust. Obama’s antitrust czar and the EU are looking into this. Watch out. It was the combination of the Internet bubble and the antitrust rulings against Microsoft that caused the stock to tumble where it has been for the past 8 years (or so). As fortune would have it that is also right around the time that I looked like a financial genius and cashed in my options. The truth is that I had to cash them in and resemblance of genius was actually pure coincidence.

Exchange Can Learn Something From TiVo

I am trying to book a reoccurring meeting in Exchange. This meeting happens every two weeks and needs to be in a room with a screen/projector with enough room to hold 15+ people. There are very few rooms we have access to that fit this requirement (3). And to book a meeting so far out into the future, I am bound to bump up against some collisions.

When I book the room for the next year and there is one day where there is a collision, Exchange fails the entire booking. So now what do I do? To make it worse there are 3 days that collide spread across the year. So now I have to book the room up to the first collision (because I don’t want to do them one at a time) and then skip that day. Continue doing this around all the collisions and then go back and find a different room for the exceptions. Ugh. Lots of work.

Now heaven forbid that I actually invited all the attendees while doing this. I used to and their heads would be spinning by the end of this since they would see all these changes and exceptions arriving. Oh and by the way, if you want to add someone new to this whole mess – it’s nearly impossible.

Enter TiVo. When I schedule a Season Pass (reoccurring recording) it tells me all the collisions and what it’s going to do. But it will keep the Season Pass and just not record some showings. In fact it will go one step further to try and find a time when an episode that lost in the collision may be showing later in the week. But at least I only need to do something around the collisions/exceptions – much more friendly!

I can only hope that this has already been “fixed” in a more recent version of Exchange; I would not know since we are at least one version behind.