Seven years after its IPO, Google is entering the next phase of its growth as a company. It’s impressively large by anyone’s standards, with $29.3 billion in revenue in 2010, nearly 30,000 full-time employees, and offices in 42 countries. And yet Larry Page, now Google’s CEO for the first time since 2001, still seems to view the company as a cross between a startup and his old Stanford University grad project. It’s neither, and it faces difficult challenges. The legal environment around Google is tightening even as it goes head-to-head with the industry’s largest companies, and the changes it must make to remain competitive may mean tomorrow’s Google little resembles the fun-loving Silicon Valley darling of yesteryear. Read on for the rest of my analysis of Google and the road it must travel, this week at InfoWorld.com.
Google’s at it again. Surely no company is as adept at generating buzz for something it hasn’t actually done yet. It’s already well-known for keeping products in perpetual Beta until its marketing department decides the time is right to drop the label. This time, the “news” is all about Chrome OS — a product that isn’t in beta, isn’t ready for anybody to use, but will be changing the nature of computing itself real soon now. (And by “real soon now,” Google means no sooner than next year.)
InfoWorld was invited to participate in the press conference, so they sent me down to check it out. You can read my coverage at InfoWorld.com (and on various other sites, via IDG Syndication).
I can’t say I’m totally convinced. The idea of an instant-on Web browser appliance is interesting, but Google isn’t the first to propose it. After all, don’t a lot of people use iPhones for that? And while Apple has backed away from its stance that all iPhone apps should be based on the Safari browser, Google continues to insist that the future of all computing lies on the Web. Sorry, but I just don’t see the trend being as “very, very clear” as Google’s Sundar Pichai claims it is.
Nonetheless, I’ll be following this project with great interest, and you can expect more coverage from InfoWorld as details emerge.
For the truly geeky among you: In the latest post to my Fatal Exception blog over at InfoWorld, I’m taking a look under the hood of Chrome, Google’s new Web browser. A lot of articles make mention of how Chrome is open source. I actually put it to the test, by building a custom copy of it myself.
Along the way I found out a lot of interesting information about Chrome’s internals and how Google built it. On the plus side, it’s very clean, well-organized code. On the minus side, it looks like it’s going to be Windows-only for a good while, yet.
Anyway, I had a lot of fun doing this piece (it’s been a long time since I had a legitimate excuse to pull out a compiler on Windows), so if you have the hobbyist spirit, drop on over and join the discussion.