Howie's Reviews > What Would Google Do?

What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis
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May 15, 11

Read in April, 2011

I remember the first time I went to Google for a search in high school. I specifically remember being impressed by how simple the home page layout was. This fact about Google has not changed. In an era where companies constantly change their image to gain more market share, Google has focused on simplicity. As Jarvis explains in What Would Google Do, simplicity, a quality product, strong customer relationships, and a company motto of 'Do no evil' have made Google one of the greatest driving forces of the 21st century.

Jarvis and I share the share the viewpoint that Google is driving the future. If you haven't read The Long Tail by Chris Anderson yet, I strongly recommend it. The internet based economy is the future and a key part of that is the ability to find what you are looking for. Being able to find what you are looking for allows the customer to find the best product or service at the best price, no matter the size of the company providing that product or service. Niche markets can reach millions instead of only hundreds. Google is the key to connecting people with those niche markets. This is a fundamental change to business.

Not only does Google do this for free, but it offers a pleasant experience while doing it. As Jarvis points out, Google is very fast. Jarvis wanted to say that Google results are returned in a blink of an eye, but he wasn't sure how fast the eye blinks. So he Googled for 'speed of a blink' and Google told him in about 0.03 seconds that the average human blink takes about 0.03 seconds. This pleasant experience is part of the customer relationship that Google makes with us. With so many choices for everything on the internet (including search providers), loyalty is important.

Focusing on individual customer relationships is only an example of where Google is improving on today's practices. With all of the principals that Google implements, one might wonder how many areas of our economy could be improved if people were to ask 'What Would Google Do?' Jarvis goes on to show how nearly every aspect of business could be improved by Google methodologies. On this point I differ from Jarvis on several points. Jarvis makes the standpoint that all of the business areas that he discusses will be changed and there is no way to stop the force of nature that is Google. For example, Jarvis states that newspapers, the old mainstream of news, will be completely wiped out. It is my belief that newspapers will become a niche market along with many other niche markets that provide news and events. Never the less, the exercise in dissecting business and reforming it in Google's image is interesting.

Though the book was only written recently, some of the discussions he enters have already become dated. Google's relationship with China, for example, has changed since the writing of the book. However, Google's actions since the writing of the book have highlighted how Google is sticking to the principals Jarvis describes. Another recent example that show's Google's foresight relates to one of the sections of Jarvis's book. Near the end of the book, Jarvis discusses what would happen if Google ideals were applied, not only to business, but to government as well. Here, recently, Google started giving bonuses to homosexual married employees to offset the difference in tax benefits heterosexual couples receive over homosexual couples. Google shows itself to be more fair, more tolerant, and wiser than the government to which we trust our lives.

While some of the tangents Jarvis takes seem to be more far-fetched than others, the fact that Google is shaping our lives and will continue to shape our lives in greater ways needs to be said. I think we will see many of the changes Jarvis discusses in the near future.
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