Why Microsoft can't best Google

Microsoft's focus on desktop capability is the crux of why it can't possibly succeed against Google -- it's focusing on yesterday's market.

Most of the analysis of Google's announcements this week of its upgraded desktop tool and its pilot instant-messaging client has seen it in terms of Google encroaching on Microsoft's turf.

That's looking at it from the wrong perspective. Google's turf is the Internet. It's not interested in devices that don't connect to it — Microsoft is welcome to that market. It simply wants to extend its reach to any device that does go online.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's focus on desktop capability is the crux of why it can't possibly succeed against Google (or any future Google equivalent). It's focusing on yesterday's market. Microsoft's dominance of the desktop is as relevant to the future of computing as Union Pacific's dominance of the railroads was to the future of transportation in the twentieth century.

Here's a sampling of reasons why Microsoft is history:

  • Microsoft wants everyone to have a rich desktop experience, Google wants everyone to have a rich Internet experience.
  • Microsoft's business model depends on everyone upgrading their computing environment every two to three years. Google's depends on everyone exploring what's new in their computing environment every day.
  • Microsoft looks at the world from a perspective of desktop+Internet. Google looks at the world from a perspective of Internet+any device.
  • Microsoft wants computers to help individuals do more unaided. Google wants computers to help individuals do more in collaboration. In the Internet age, who wants to work alone any more, when all the unexplored opportunity is in collaborative endeavor?
  • In a few year's time, who's going to still be working at a desk anyway?

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