I hosted a Facebook event last year where I remember the final panel being about the future of Facebook. This was right around when their new targeted ad service had come out (which eventually failed), but there was a lot of discussion about that, lots of marketers in the room chatting about what the strategy should be.
I remember Gab Goldenburg was in the room, and I asked for some reason “Who trusts Microsoft more than Google?” and vice-versa. Almost everyone trusted Google more, except Gab and me. It was an interesting moment.
The reason I suspect Gab and I didn’t trust Google as that Microsoft is basically a sleeping giant. They’re not going to bug you if you walk by them quietly and don’t try to stick a sword in their leg. They’re cool, you can trust Microsoft inasmuch as, well, they’re inert.
Google, on the other hand, will eventually eat your lunch.
We see this yesterday with Wikia being basically made obsolete, and likewise with Wikipedia and Knol. We see it with Google Maps (Mapquest) and with Google Docs (Microsoft Office) and many more. So if you think you’re safe, seriously, I’d start thinking otherwise. Microsoft is safe; people just think of them from their Internet Explorer days when they were in court. Now it’s Google instead, with some parts of the EU trying to block what they’re doing but the US just opening the door.
Thing is, I’m not really sure what the answer is, because they also have the backing to make everything better. I strongly support Google.org and its Executive Director Larry Brilliant, and every service they go against, we benefit from improvements. Heck, even Chris and I are using Google Docs to work on the book; it’s the best collaboration tool we have available for now, so why wouldn’t we?
Anyway, not sure what the solution is here, except maybe, start looking to defend your business model or changing it. Eventually it may force it to become free and you’ll be left wondering how it all happened so quickly. Just sayin.