Friday, August 11, 2006

Google as Napoleonic France

A cute article in The Economist compares Google's current strategic position to the war with Napoleonic France. Some excerpts:
Prince Klemes Von Metternich, foreign minister of the Austrian Empire during the Napoleonic era ..., would have no trouble recognising Google.

To him, ... [Google] would closely resemble the Napoleonic France that in his youth humiliated Austria and Europe's other powers. Its rivals -- Yahoo ... eBay ... Microsoft --- 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.

The alliances are already being struck. Last year Yahoo and Microsoft announced that they would connect their instant-messaging systems ... [and] "voice chat" ... In May, Yahoo! and eBay struck an alliance ...
All Google needs is an overextension into the hinterlands of Microsoft to make the analogy complete.

The Economist article focuses on the first tier players -- Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, and eBay -- but I suspect the second tier might be in play too.

In particular, I think Amazon -- with its e-commerce, payment systems, clever APIs, associates advertising program, and fledging A9 web search engine -- may also be attractive for those seeking strategic alliances in the search war.

See also my previous posts, "Amazon Omakase and personalized ads", "Yahoo and eBay, Amazon and Microsoft", and "Amazon web search switches to Microsoft".

7 comments:

RobotsThink said...

Good analogy!
But at the end of Napoleonic wars, France was no longer a dominant power. So, Greg,how do you think this wil be for GooGle.

And what are you hinting at. ;)

Martin said...

"All Google needs is an overextension into the hinterlands of Microsoft to make the analogy complete."

Google Spreadsheets anyone? :-)

jeremy said...

The only problem with this analogy is that when Napoleon invaded other countries, he actually succeeded in conquering them.

Other than search, what has Google really come to dominate? We geeks use Google maps and Gmail, but I think the mainstream still uses mapquest and hotmail or yahoo mail. The mainstream does not use Google Chat. And do you know anyone who actually uses Froogle? YouTube is beating Google Video. Orkut went wild in Brazil, but Myspace went wild everywhere else. Google image search takes months to update, and has yet to develop any search interface beyond text (i.e. no query by color, drawing, example, etc.)

I suppose Google News is popular in some circles, too. But I've not really seen any stats on that.. do you know how it stacks up?

I get the impression that with every new Google release, there is an insane amount of buzz.. but no real mass adoption.. no real Napoleonic conquest.

Am I off in that impression?

Greg Linden said...

Good point, Jeremy. As the stats on market share from Hitwise show, Google is far from conquering services outside of search.

Nick Lothian said...

Not sure if this is the full article or not, but no sub is required: http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=7277064

Greg Linden said...

Thanks, Nick! I changed the link!

Adam said...

I completely agree about Amazon. They are a the dark horse of the big players. I'm surprised at the uptake with S3 and SQS and how many folks use Alexa on a daily basis.