18 December, 2007

The NYTimes on Google v. Microsoft (a brief overview)

The New York Times just sent an interesting article to my Inbox. Here's a paragraph from the article that, I believe, explains fairly well its gravamen:

The growing confrontation between Google and Microsoft promises to be an epic business battle. It is likely to shape the prosperity and progress of both companies, and also inform how consumers and corporations work, shop, communicate and go about their digital lives. Google sees all of this happening on remote servers in faraway data centers, accessible over the Web by an array of wired and wireless devices — a setup known as cloud computing. Microsoft sees a Web future as well, but one whose center of gravity remains firmly tethered to its desktop PC software. Therein lies the conflict.

There have been a number of articles online about the growing battle between Microsoft and Google--David (Google) taking on Goliath Microsoft). One of the odd things about this analogy is that Google is described as being a David when it is anything BUT. Granted, they're not the evil corporate empire that Microsoft has become, and hopefully they never will get there.

What is interesting to me is the manner in which Google is battling Microsoft. They're not exactly using what most would consider to be "white gloves" tactics; they're playing just as down and dirty as the rest of corporate America. The difference here, however, is in the goals that Google seeks to reach, and that they haven't to date gotten too "down and dirty."

Considering that Microsoft and Google both offer a number of competitive, comparative products, and that people tend to have preferences, which do you prefer, and why?

I believe my preference is fairly obvious but in case it isn't: I'm definitely a fan of Google, in large part because Google has--again, to date--used its clout and resources in order to comply with its corporate philosophy to "Don't Do Evil" and not only have they managed to not do evil, but they're aiding and abetting others in who battle evil. For instance,

The fact that Google's actions have traditional analysts, such as Scott Cleland, all up in stitches is, to me, definitely a good sign. It seems that American corporations have become all too obsessed with the almighty dollar, with turning profit, and have all but forgotten the basis (and most important part) of their business in the first place: the customer. Thankfully, that fate has not yet befallen Google, and I hope that Google's Corporate Philosophy (which is rumoured to have been incorporated into their by-laws) will enable them never to fall prey to that trap.

Google provides services that the customer wants, and for a reasonable price. In doing so, they have become one of the largest and most successful global companies in the history of business. Even though they charge pennies to the dollar that other corporations, such as Microsoft, charge their customers, Google is experiencing exponential revenue growth. And I firmly believe that it all has to do with their corporate philosophy. This is something that people want and, as more and more people around the world come to terms with technology and are better able to access it, I believe (and hope) that Google will be the winner of this battle.

For another take (or perhaps a similar one; I just spotted the article) take on this battle of the giants, take a look at this C|Net article.

[Updated 18 December 2007, 5:45am]:

I had to put this update in, I just found on the web, because this further exemplifies why Google is, by far, my company of choice for all things Web. David Berlind, Executive Editor of ZDNet, recently blogged about some of the recent changes that have occurred with Gmail, Google's (primarily) web-based email service, and when you read his blog post, you'll find out why I have "primarily" in parenthesis. Here are some excerpts from his post:


One of Google’s core philosophies is that user data should never be held hostage. We want people to be able to take their data and do whatever it is they want with it. This isn’t something that’s really standard for e-mail services. Particularly Web mail services that rely on ad revenue. There’s a risk if you let people get their mail in Outlook or some other client that they’ll stop using the Web interface and they’ll end up just reading their mail in a desktop client. We believe that if we give users the best possible product and if we create a good Web interface, and let them use their data in these clients like Outlook or like their BlackBerry, that they’ll overall have a better experience and be happier with the product. So, we’ve made a point throughout Gmail’s history to give people this freedom with their data.

. . .

Regarding the updates to the underlying Javascript engine, Coleman talks about how, as a result of those changes, not only has the Gmail team been able to add eight new features in as many weeks (colored labels [mentioned above], keyboard shortcuts, instantly opening e-mails [via prefetching], integration of AOL Instant Messaging, group chat, etc.), but about how the pace of change will be very fast which means a great many more enhancements (barring foldering capabilities, none of which Coleman would let slip in the interview) are coming Gmail’s way (some experimental, some not). However, one feature that’s here now, that Coleman did slip-in, is that the storage limit for users of Gmail currently exceeds 5 gigabytes. [emphasis supplied]

I just checked my Gmail account and, sure enough, I have nearly 6GB of storage space that's being provided for me. How neat is this?