Thursday, February 19, 2009

Planet Google


The subtitle really caught me on this one; one company's audacious plan to organize everything we know. I've long had this desire to know everything, so I could relate to the "audacious plan." It was more of a business oriented book, so I admit that I skimmed a lot of it.
The details of how you organize a tech business and, more important, learn to make a profit was interesting to me. The author hints that Google's success was more a lucky chance than anything else. They chose to do the notes on the side thing, linked to the search term, at the time other companies were going with banner ads and similar models. Google's ability to pay only for a click, rather than eyeball space, lets them be more diverse and by only advertising what people are looking for, they have more clicks. So Google makes money and has for a while now.
But one of Google's acquisitions, YouTube, doesn't make any money and they have yet to find a way to make it generate income. That was very funny to me. YouTube is wildly successful and a spectacular failure.
Google appeals to me because it tries to have a more engineering approach to business which causes it to have PR problems on a regular basis, but if you are using an engineering model that is to be expected.
The author had a lot of access to Google while writing this and seems to sway between admiration and caution. If Google does succeed in becoming the portal to all known information, perhaps he doesn't want to mess up his chances with our future overlords.
Reading such a current book is also chancy because I think some of the things he wrote about are already dated, but such is life in tech business. Though I learned some things from it, any book that is 1/3 notes and index is too detail oriented for a dilettante like myself.

Planet Google. Randall Stross. Free Press. 2008

1 comment:

jendoop said...

DH and I have wondered how YouTube makes any money, how it operates at all. Google has become less user friendly to me in the last year or so, the way it makes the most popular item the first is not always best. Although their new googlescholar came in handy for my research paper.
You must be getting desperate for reading material. I'd send you books but you'd go through them so quickly I don't know if it would be worth the shipping costs.