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A major difference between Microsoft 1.0 and Microsoft 2.0 (Google)
Back in October I wrote about whether Google was the new Microsoft (Microsoft 2.0). Have a look at that post for all of the services Google owned back in October. How many have they added since then? At least one big one (DoubleClick) and several smaller ones.
Today there is some talk about Google creating a new feature for their Google Toolbar which is a personal attack against StumbleUpon. I don't agree with this argument. It's not the exact same thing. But more importantly this new feature just gives Google more and more information about you. I wonder if sites that use Adsense or Adwords will get more dice rolls than others?
If we look at Microsoft back in the 80's and early 90's, they would look at what their competition was doing, and then incorporate that into the next release of their software. Google is doing the exact same thing. BUT. Yes, there is a BUT.
In the Microsoft 1.0 time, it was different. Software took months or years to get out so implementing these changes took time. With Microsoft 2.0 (Google), it can take mere minutes to create the same technology. In the case of this new Toolbar feature, once they complete the development and testing, they can roll it out immediately and have users on the new version within seconds. Not the same for old Microsoft 1.0.
Can we blame Google for doing this? Nope, it's what any smart company would do. If you can't buy your competitors, why not just outbuild them? Remember that shareholders don't care about people. Just the returns. You need to make sure your startup is always one step ahead.