April 6, 2004 6:47 AM   Subscribe

The secret source of Google's power
While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming.
posted by cbrody (15 comments total)
Apologies for yet another GoogleFilter post but I found this interesting. Assuming Skrenta has his assumptions correct, what does this mean for Google's competitors? Do they truly have any, when it comes to that?
posted by cbrody at 6:53 AM on April 6, 2004

Apologies for yet another GoogleFilter post

I think this is good and informative, and a nice complement to the gmail discussion (so thanks, cbrody).
posted by carter at 7:10 AM on April 6, 2004

Google can still be "defeated" by microsoft if microsoft started to spend its money. Google's greatness lies in its search engine which only crawls roughly 20% of the indexable web. If a company is able to develop an algorithm that returns better results and covers a larger area of the web (say - a cheap and efficient focus crawl), google's search engine would lose power. Google will probably always exist (in the same sense that people still use msn search), but Google is not as invincible as this article tries to makes it seem.
posted by Stynxno at 7:16 AM on April 6, 2004

The Computer is Your Friend.

Remember the days when Netscape Navigator was going to be the operating system of the future?
posted by rcade at 7:39 AM on April 6, 2004

Those heady Netscape-is-the-future days seem a million years ago now.

That was a fascinating read, as was the thread discussion afterward. "Something this large and powerful that has an impact on the lives of billions of people simply will not be allowed to be independently run for the good of mankind."" I guess they really are getting to that point, eh?
posted by chicobangs at 7:50 AM on April 6, 2004

There is a handy tool called Grokker which you can download and try for free. It searches google, amazon and your Hard Drive for given key words, and presents the results in groups. Interesting concept, but its not free.
posted by adnanbwp at 7:58 AM on April 6, 2004

Dagnabit, I was going to post this myself. Ah well.

Reading the article, I was reminded of MultiVac, Asimov's large, centralized computer that can understand natural-language queries, is accessible from anywhere in the world, and can search all information known to mankind. I don't think that Google has reached God-like proportions. Yet.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:26 AM on April 6, 2004

Interesting product adnanbwp, but I'm not sure how it relates to this thread. The point is that Google seems to be building a network-based OS that has almost unlimited potential for new mass-user applications. There's a lot of hyperbole in discussions about what this really means but, if Google can be seen to be competing on another level entirely from the other big OS and application software developers, then it's all to their favour in light of the impending IPO.

Maybe Skrenta is secretly working for their marketing department?
/tinfoil hat

posted by cbrody at 8:28 AM on April 6, 2004

Great read... I wonder how Google's IPO will change things...
posted by wfrgms at 10:25 AM on April 6, 2004

There was some reference to the fact that google searches just 20% of the websites out there, and a competitor has to either do better or present the results in a better way. That is why I was reminded of the above mentioned product.
posted by adnanbwp at 10:39 AM on April 6, 2004

Those heady Netscape-is-the-future days seem a million years ago now.

Really? To me, the web-browser-is-an-application-platform days have been here for a while, and aren't going anywhere. Many people use a web browser as their primary way to check email, and those that don't still often use that interface when away from their own computers. Newsgroups (as accessed by a news reader client) have been mostly supplanted as a discussion forum by web-based solutions. Many intranet applications are now targeted for web deployment, while nearly all applications that companies share with the outside world are web-enabled.

Meanwhile, Macromedia's Flex, Mozilla's XUL, and Microsoft's upcoming XAML use the web browser as a container for more traditional application content. Interfaces are described in XML, a superset of the HTML language that the web hinges on. Web services that use HTTP as a carrier are gaining ground for interaction between organizations as well as within companies.

Companies like Netscape and PointCast created products that were able to grab news and parcels of media from several sources and then aggregate them on the desktop. Today, RSS readers do pretty much the same thing.

The foundation for the current application architecture was laid down in the mid 1990s. Netscape may be gone, but the web browser as a platform is here and evolving.
posted by mikeh at 10:54 AM on April 6, 2004

I would rather buy Rackable stock than Google stock. But alas both are still private.
posted by stbalbach at 11:13 AM on April 6, 2004

"they store the entire web in RAM"

Really? Anyone got more about that hard-to-believe claim? I find it amazing enough that Google's "full index is stored in memory"
posted by iffley at 2:14 PM on April 6, 2004

thanks johnny assay, a side track but one of my favorite stories from asimov (is it me or is the last line added)
posted by NGnerd at 10:31 PM on April 6, 2004

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