If you’ve been hanging around the IT world for a while, you might know that at one point (and maybe they still do), Microsoft adopted the policy of "embrace and extend".
Translation: take what others are doing, and make it waaaay better.
Often this involves buying companies (and I’m not going to "Microsoft bash" in this post by the way) and working with their existing teams to rapidly move a research project forward to its commercial phase.
Market place dominance becomes possible in an increasing number of meshed niches once a company establishes its brand (think of how many products Amazon now sells compared to 10 years ago).
Is embrace and extend good news for the consumer?
It all depends (of course).
Ubiquity is probably the elixir of life that a company will chase, either to its ultimate ruin, or its universal success, depending on the wisdom and tenacity of its leaders. Becoming a household name on the lips and in the minds of billions of people is a rare accolade only achieved by a few hundred worldwide brands.
In a sense, positioning your company to be some kind of service or infrastructural backbone almost guarantees your immortality.
I say almost because of course, the environment which sustains brand dominance is ever-changing, and successful companies ignore the ever-shifting sands of their surroundings at their peril.
So what about Google? Has it drank from this elixir, never to die?
Nobody knows that – but the evidence looks in their favor. Today when Google announced Google Broadband the world almost forgot that just 24 hours ago, we were told about Google Buzz. So, that’s two major innovations within a day.
Talk about ‘stacking’.
I freely admit that the actual rollout of gigabit home broadband is ‘only’ for a pilot group of a maximum of 500,000 North Americans, but nevertheless, Google is clearly straining (perhaps "steam rolling" is more apt) its way into becoming as well known as Coca Cola.
Think about this: less than ten years ago, the small startup had a cool idea about a new way to do to search.
Now even my 3 year old daughter knows the verb "to Google". And every internet marketer around the globe who uses the ubiquitous search engines knows the phrase "Google slap".
And we have the Google phone. And Google Mail. And Google video (aka YouTube). And now a Google Twitter/Facebook mashup that looks like it just might scratch in more places than Google Wave ever will.
And global(?) Google broadband soon…
And Google has its eyes on many other prizes that might well be within its grasp.
Truly embrace and extend.
Truly good for the world?
It all depends, as always, on the character of the leadership of the company. Are they motivated to make the world a better place? It certainly seems so. Google is treading its way to lead ("drag"?) red-necked dollar-driven, hard-nosed multi-nationals into a new era of social capitalism in a way that no-one thought possible – like a Moon-landing-4-minute-mile-water-into-wine extravaganza of "unliklihoods" all rolled into one.
On the other hand, how it all pans out depends, as always, on how Google copes with such universal acceptance. Will it remain able to hold to its open-handed philosophy of "do no evil" (as I alluded to in yesterday’s musings)?
Let’s hope so. Now is a good time to foster the entrepreneurial and innovative mindset like nobody’s business.
Or everybody’s business, perhaps.