Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vendors Survival: Will Google Survive until 2021? - Part 2

Searching the Web 
Search Engine is Google's most strategic product. Some of its other products are using it as component of the services they provide. 
Limitation or failure of it, as described in Why we desperately need a New (and Better) Google cited in part1 of this post, could negatively affect Google's market position.

This is a major challenge facing Google. Google has no control of some of the factors limiting its effectiveness.

Challenges in Searching the Web
The following bullets describe major Web Data problems, which could affect Web Search:

  • The data is growing exponentially
The amount of data is growing fast. A Search Engine should handle larger amounts of pages and probably will find more and more number of pages in each search operation results list. 

Implications: Users will not read all entries in search results list. They will focus in the first entries. Search Engines results order should be accurate so users could identify the most relevant and important pages.

  • No data Clean up Procedures    
Think of PC Files, Server Files, e-mail messages and 
Userids and Userids related information as well as other IT entities. 

The common denominator of all of them is the necessity to manage them and to move to garbage items which are not in use and probably will not be used in the future. For example, you have to avoid of Virtualization Sprawl by deleting unused Virtual Machines in a Cloud, you have to delete temporary files in a PC or a Server. Spam, old or not important e-mail messages are deleted. Other e-mail messages are archived. Userids and their related information are deleted or at list should be deleted when the employee or client stops working. 

Deletion and other Management Operations are done automatically or manually, but in all cases there is an owner or an administrator, who devises and performs a policy.
No one manage the Web. No one cleanup web pages except the owner of the page, who usually has no motivation for deleting web pages.  

Implications: The result of high growth rate coupled with no management is too many Web pages and too many irrelevant pages. 

  • Data Reliability 
Some pages are reliable and others are not. It is not an easy task to identify the reliable and valuable pages. For information read a previous post: 

Wikimania 2011: Are Internet Sources Reliable?

Search Engines should be able to assess the reliability of Web pages. It is not an easy task.

Implications: Reliable Web Pages should appear in the top of Search Results; otherwise users will read mostly unreliable sources.
  • Multi data types
The data is not text only. It includes Videos, Pictures and Voice etc. 
Non-text data size is a lot larger than text data size.   

Implications: Searching non-text pages is not as easy as searching text. The Search Engine has to support new search types e.g. search of Images or Videos or even multi-type search e.g. text or images sharing a common Keyword.    

The Web expansion or Entropy or exponential data growth is a major challenge for applications manipulating Web Data including Search Engines.
Semantic Web, Web 3.0, Big Data are attempts to address or minimize the effects of this problem.

The other main challenge is rating the Reliability and Value of Web Pages. Page Rank is an example of an algorithm for addressing this challenge. 

Unique Google's Challenges
In addition to the need to cope with these general challenges Google has to cope with unique challenges, due to its position as the Search market leader with approximately 80% market share.

The challenges are not as simple as using an automated or human method of multiple clicking on advertisement. They are derived from attempts to fool Google Search Engine algorithms in order to move a Web page to the beginning of search results.

The following bullets provides three frequent mechanisms for fooling Google Search Engine or at least attempting to fool it:  

1. Payment for an automated service which supposed to place a Web page in one of the first entries of Google's Search results list. 
The paid service will access the Web page artificially many times as possible, preferably from highly ranked Web sites. This method could improve the Page Rank rating and place it in higher position than it should be positioned in Google searches.

2. Adding unrelated popular labels to a Web Page labels list.
This technique could show a Web Page in Search operations unrelated to its content. It may also position it higher than it should in Search results list.   

3. Cutting and Pacing full Web Pages or parts of Web Pages from other Web sites
For example, by copying a Wikipedia article content. 
The page design may look perfect and the content could be reliable, but it attracts readers to a Web Site in which other pages are not reliable and are not well designed. Google's Search algorithm could rate the page higher than it should.
Google's Action: The Company announced recently that it will pay more for clicking advertisements in sites   having original content.  

Google's survival depends mainly upon two related domains: Web Search and its effective advertisement based business model.

The Web Search Engine is not as good as it was few years ago, due to Web Data exponential growth and fundamental changes of data characteristics. In addition to these factors, due to Google's dominance of this market users develop various mechanisms for fooling Google Search Engine. 

Google challenge is to adapt and evolve its Search Engine. Google may need to find new creative ways to evolve its search Engine because nobody has Web Data Control, so the data quantity and characteristics could change significantly in the future. 

As far as the Business model is concerned, it will be very difficult to replace it by entirely different model. However, the probability that an advertisement based business model will not be viable is low.

If the advertisement based business model will continue to be a viable model, Google's position will depend upon using it effectively in Search Page in conjunction with creating additional income sources from advertisement related to new services and Business Lines such as Android and You Tube TV.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Google: an insider's view

I recently read Steve Yegge's very interesting post cited by Rip's Rowan. According to Rip it is "The best article I've ever read about architecture and the management of IT". 

It is a very interesting post which was intended to be internal memoranda and accidently was published externally.

I read it in the right time: just after publishing in my blog a post titled: Will Google Survive until 2021? Revisited - part 1 and before publishing part 2. 

You can read it here. I recommend reading it from start to end although it is a long post. 

As a former Amazon employee and current Google employee he discusses the limitations and strengths of the two companies (more criticism than praise) and compares them to Apple, Facebook and Microsoft

He discusses both technological aspects, focusing on what he calls Internal SOA and  on Organizational Culture.  

Few Notes

The notes do not support or dispute Steve's views. They just summarize and clarify some aspects.
1. Google's main challenge is lack of Platform
It is a products company which developed a very successful product: Search Engine. Lack of Platform is more a Cultural issue than a Technological issue, therefore more difficult to change.

2. Other major challenge is lack of openness to third party developers.  
The lack of openness is not a technical only issue. It is mainly lack of openness to their ideas about what kind of applications to develop or what users of Electronic Social Networking Service would like to use.  

3. Lack of Accessibility is another concern

It can limit Service or Product use to a specific market 

share of sophisticated young people.

4. Despite Google's limitations he is loyal to 

Google because unlike Amazon its culture is  

employees friendly or makes employees feel good.  

A final note:  Google should be praised for allowing 

its employee to criticize its culture and products

internally (and unintentionally in the public). 

A corporate culture which do not shut internal criticism 

can support Innovation and Adaptation.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Will Google Survive until 2021? Revisited - part 1

Three years ago I wrote one of my Vendors Survival posts. The post was titled: Vendors Survival: Will Google Survive until 2018?
The Vendors Survival posts analyze the probability that vendors will survive for at least ten years. Most of them are about leading vendors such as Apple, Microsoft, HP, EMC etc. The previous post was on Zapthink, a small SOA and Cloud Analysts and Consultants company acquired by Dovel Systems.

Ten years predictions are usually inaccurate. However,
The only leading vendor I predicted that will not survive was SUN Microsystems, who was shortly afterwards an acquisition target for IBM and acquired by Oracle.

I recently read Google's announcement about shutting down some of its products and a similar announcement  about other products.
Shutting down products and services looks like a sign of weakening.

Some people argue that Google Social Software initiatives like Buzz, Jaiko and Google+ fails to compete with Facebook or Twitter.

Others focus on limitations of current Google Search Engine. Two examples: Why we desperately need  a New (and Better) Google, Trouble in the House of Google

Few months ago Larry Page replaced Eric Schmidt as Google's CEO. Was that change a sign that Google is no longer as successful as it was?  
So will Google preserve its position as a leader? Will it Survive for Long Term?

Google 2008 vs. Google 2011
Google of 2011 is very different from Google of 2008.
It is competing with Apple in the Smart Phone Operating Systems market with its Android (The market share of each of them is approximately 40%). 

After acquiring Motorola Mobility division it is no more Software only company but also a Smart Phones Hardware vendor. 

On the one hand Google become a successful player in the browsers market with Chrome and Gmail is a de-facto standard in the Consumer market and competing with Microsoft's Exchange in Enterprises.

On the other hand its attempts to compete with Facebook and Twitter in the Electronic Social Networking Services market are still unsuccessful.    

In order to conclude if Google will survive until 2021 we have to examine threats that could change Google's position for the Long Term. 
I do think that the threats mentioned in the post I wrote about Google Survival in 2008 are relevant. In this post I discuss or mention them briefly. 

Threat 1: Significantly better Search Engine developed by another company
The issue of Web Search Engines will be discussed in part 2 of the post.

Threat 2: Loosing its innovative spirit
The section titles: Google 2008 vs. Google 2011 indicates that probably Google is still an innovative company.

Threat 3: Expanding its business domains wrongly
Google is expanding its business domains and its business services. I do not identify indicators of wrong expansion.
Stopping business services is the other side of the coin. I do not think that Google announcement of shutting services cited in the beginning of that post is an indication of wrong strategy.

An old proverb says: The only people who never make mistakes are those who are doing nothing.
Shutting an unsuccessful service is an indication of Agile and Adapting company. Its a lot better than supporting it for years. 

Shutting a bunch of strategic services could imply a wrong strategy. However, as far as Google is concerned, it is not the case. 

Threat 4: Legal issues
This issue continues to be a relevant issue.

Threat 5: Web X.0 (X > 2)
This issue of Web Content will be discussed in a part 2 of the post, which will be published soon. 

Threat 6: failure of the simple and effective Google 
Business model
I do not observe indicators supporting failure of Google's business model.
There is a growing anxiety concerning Privacy because Google hosts more and more private data in order to select adequate advertisement.

Searching the Web 
Search Engine is Google's most strategic product. Some of its other products are using it as component of the services they provide. 

Limitation or failure of it, as described in Why we desperately need a New (and Better) Google cited in the beginning of this post, could negatively affect Google's market position.

This is the major challenge facing Google. Google has no Control of some of the factors limiting its effectiveness. 

Because addressing this challenge is so important for Google, I will dedicate a post to it. The post which will be titled same as the current post with the suffix part 2  will be published until next weekend.

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