Often I hear Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google described as “The Big Four.” And it seems that among those Big Four, Google is the nerdiest. I don’t mean Geekiest, because Geek has become something sort of cool these days. There’s just something about Google that isn’t as fashionable as the other three. But there are a few things that really are cool about Google that CSPs should probably keep in mind.
1) Google is not afraid to screw up. Google has taken some shots with things like Buzz, and to some extent G+. Not everything Google touches turns to gold. But they keep trying to come up with new ideas and a lot of what they do is either pretty good – like Gmail and Google Talk – or completely awesome – like Google Maps.
2) Google is not afraid to roll up its sleeves. Take a look at the inset photo. This is a perfect example of how Google is innovative offline in order to be innovative online. It’s a little hard to see, but there’s a big camera apparatus (wrapped in a black case) mounted on the top of this Subaru. If you’ve never tried Street View in Google Maps, give it a shot. If you have and have wondered how they get the images, this is an example. It’s fantastic that Google would choose a Subaru for this too. That way, when someone gets distracted and crashes into this car, the driver is encased in one of the safest cars on the road. And, if the car needs to get in and out of snow or mud, it’s no problem.
3) Google is a verb. A colleague was telling me the other day that because Google is so powerful, neuroscientists and sociologists believe the way the human brain stores information is changing; we don’t store all the info, we store the best way to get the info via Google. In any conversation where a question is posed to which no one knows the answer immediately, someone inevitably will suggest “just Google it.” If you’ve ever tried to build a brand, you know how cool this is. Creating an entirely new, and wholly pervasive, meaning for a word that you borrowed and made your brand is an amazing feat.
I respect Google because the company is willing to take chances in order to create things that it essentially gives away and uses those freebies to drive significant profits. That’s very tough to compete with.
In his new book, Unzipping the Digital World, TM Forum Chairman Keith Willetts calls on communications executives to be bold and take chances in order to seize massive opportunities in the digital economy. Google provides a perfect example of how a willingness to be unconventional while overcoming the fear of abject failure can pay huge dividends.