Hearing Bob Cringely speak at Webmasterworld’s Pubcon last week was a treat. While Cringely managed to be involved in the earliest days of both Apple Computer and Sun Microsystems without becoming a gazillionaire, that depth of experience in the industry gives him a unique perspective.
Some of his comments have appeared in his column at PBS.org, notably his position that Google wants to BECOME the Internet. He seems to think they have a reasonable chance of pulling it off. Google’s only serious competitors, according to Cringely, are Microsoft and Yahoo; both have somewhat different strategies, and neither will impede Google in the end.
The Google Search Appliance could be a prototype for the future of the Internet. (The GSA is a hardware device, currently used mainly on corporate intranets, that indexes accessible content using an approach similar to the Google search engine.) Cringely posits that devices like this, placed around the Internet as part of modular data centers, could become an alternative way to access other computers and their information. In essence, the “Google Internet” would run on top of the current infrastructure.
Cringely brought a welcome dose of humor to the Pubcon keynote. One of the more amusing comments was his take on why sometimes Google seems to misjudge what the public reaction will be to its innovations. Google Print, now Google Books, was met with hostility and lawsuits from authors whose content Google planned to display. Cringely commented, “At Google, they are so busy trying to impress you with how big their brains are, they forget you may not like that.” Microsoft, by comparison, understands people better. Nevertheless, Cringely believes, Google will define the Internet for the future.