Would you do what Google does?

door Arne Keuning op

Would you do what Google does?

I just finished reading the Book "What would google do" from Jeff Jarvis. It is an interesting book but it puzzles me on two parts. In two words: Adds and Apples.

As for Adds, on the one hand he stresses the importance of the business model of Google by selling adds based on the data that you collect of a person. And of course, Google is wildly successful in selling adds. But on the other hand he explains that, due to the networked transparency that the Internet creates, advertising is less important. He even points out that not needing to advertise is a sign of success. To me that sounds like a contradiction. The more successful companies become in using the transparency of the Internet (created and improved in a large part by Google) the less profitable Google will become (and therefore not being able anymore to sustain their role in creating transparency). This catch 22 type of situation will no doubt have some equilibrium but is totally disregarded by Jeff Jarvis.

Another question about the business models on advertising that always puzzles me how far it can take us. If everybody would have advertising as their business model, who would pay for add? This “Addtention” economy can not encompass all, somewhere along the line people will have to pay for real products and services (and the companies selling these services are in the end the ones that are paying for the adds).

The second thing that puzzles me is Apples or, since they are unique, Apple. In many ways Apple is the opposite of Google. They create their products like an autist in splendid isolation. They are completely secretive about what they are doing and what products they are working on. They are closed in their hardware and most of their software and are ruthless towards people that breach that secrecy (or perhaps, HE is) is. And they too are wildly successful. This discrepancy is mentioned by Jeff Jarvis but immediately is put aside because “Apple is a class in it’s own”. But of course, Google is a class of it’s own too. The reasons why companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are successful can never just be copied because their current success feeds on the fact that they became an outlier (meaning a small difference in the beginning created the opportunity to keep enlarging that advantage).

The good thing about the book are the hypothetical cases he discusses in the end. What if banks would be operated in a Google manner, or insurance companies, or a hospital. Lots of foods for thought there (talking about food: also what if a restaurant would operate like Google).

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