on 12 August 2010
This is a piece of ephemera between hard covers. It is a generally satisfactory--although distinctly lightweight--overview of the first decade of Google, written by an industrious gleaner who has plainly put effort into seeking out and assimilating published sources but has had little luck in digging out inside details (not to mention dirt.)
This is a book for outsiders written by an outsider. It offers considerable virtues but they are all obviously time-dated. In a year or two, this will be stale history of a company that will have become something rather different from the Google in the book. In a decade, "Planet Google" will become a mere curiosity, like that one-time bestseller, "The Soul of a New Machine." In a century, perhaps, it will be the basis of a preface to a truly meaningful history of Google or of its successor(s).
If you are interested, grab "Planet Google" quickly, while it's still hot.
on 23 December 2008
In the book which addresses the general reader, the two capacities of the author namely the New York Time columnist and the professor of business history meld seamlessly. The book is an entertaining and easy read and often conveys an air of suspense, traits which point to the columnist. But behind the entertaining facade there looms the professor of business history with his sense of the significant in tracing the evolution of this phenomenally successful company, in analysing the unique elements that contributed to its success but also pointing to the difficulties and the occasional blunder in its path and in describing the proliferation of its activities from the initial single activity of web search to its present culmination of 'cloud computing'.
And from the flavour to the substance of the book.
The profound vision and awe inspiring ambition of the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, articulated few months after the establishment of Google in 1998 was to 'organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful'.
The first and still by far the most successful activity of the company was web search. The key to the success was hardware and software technology that was designed to scale up fast and inexpensively. It was able to acquire market capitilization that exceeded all other Internet companies because it chanced upon text ads linked to the keywords of a search phrase, ads that turned out to be highly efficient means for advertisers to reach prospective buyers.
To the present day ninety-nine percent of its revenues is still generated by these simple text ads which in 2007 amounted to $16.5 billion. In May 2008, Google fielded 68.3 percent of all U.S Internet searches compared to Yahoo's 20 percent and Microsoft's MSN 5.9 percent.
In ten short years after its establishment Google moved boldly to add to its collection of web pages, indexes of published items in a variety of formats including news, books, scholary journals, street maps, satellite images, corporate financial information and video, the Google YouTube which it acquired at $1.65 billion.
More recently it has created the infrastructure to perform more tasks than search, such as creating documents like those that Microsoft Office's Word, Excel and Power Point applications produce. Google also has begun to offer 'software as service' using its own software and storing and processing users' data on remote servers run by its company. The computer industry has adopted a new phrase, 'cloud computing', for this model of highly centralized computing. A user's document will seem to float in cyberspace, accessible from anywhere with an Internet Connection.
The preceding model of centralised computing creates enormous posibilities but to some looks ominous as potentially infringing privacy.
on 2 October 2014
Planet Google by Randall Ross
This book reviews the growth of Google, as an addition of goals followed through, starting with indexing the information of the Internet to make it searchable, and going through Youtube, Googlemap, etc...
The book is quite well structured, allowing to understand the systematic pursuit of business objectives rooted in facts (science & engineering, market). The exploration and chartering of the world's information, as completely as possible, performed by Google is an amazing piece of work, and this book describes it very well.
Interesting read for anyone interested in the evolutions past and coming, relying on digital technologies
on 11 August 2009
Randall Stross's earlier eBoys (a profile of Benchmark, the Silicon Valley venture firm) is a hard act to follow and, to be frank, Planet Google falls short in a number of areas. Whereas the Benchmark Partners gave Stross frequent and unrestricted access to meetings with both prospective and actual investments and, most revealingly, internal partnership meetings, it's clear that he simply didn't get the same intimate contact with Brin, Page or Schmidt at Google. That said, Stross is a shrewd observer of business and manages to extract some worthwhile insights into how the Google business model has evolved and where it's going in the future. A solid, workmanlike book of 200 pages (with 60 pages of somewhat spurious notes!)