There seemed to be some symbolic harmony in that I—one of the 100 worst golfers in the world—was going to play in a media-day event last week at one of the countrys 100 best courses. Alas, it was not meant to be, as a steady rainfall kept me and the other media types off the Wykagyl Country Club course in New Rochelle, N.Y. Instead of seriously hacking up the course only a few weeks before the Sybase Classic LPGA tournament at the end of the month, I logged on to a laptop (thanks to Verizons wireless service) and was able to read yet another 50 articles telling me how great the Google IPO is going to be.
Google does search really well, the company has stayed true to its original intentions and it has come up with a way to make a lot of money in a field where few ever thought profits would be found. However, Google is not the endpoint of computer development; it is not so great that it can never be exceeded by a competitor. And it features a design that is utilitarian in a way reminiscent of the efficient but ugly housing of the Soviet era.
Unlike during the first Internet bubble, Google will make IPO dollars more on what it has already done right than on future promise. And therein lies the obstacle to a big run-up on a stock that will have a hard time living up to its valuation in future earnings.
Maybe my thoughts that day were affected by the fact that I was a grumpy, soggy golfer wannabe, but too much of the excitement around Google is about finding a technology that actually works (It scales! It slaps an ad next to your search result!) rather than bringing something new to the technology party.
Here are three technology developments that do bring something new to the party and risk being overlooked as the Google IPO breathlessness becomes even more intense.
Internal search. Why is it easier to search for stuff on some server in Kamchatka than on your hard drive? The answer is that the Web would not work at all if you couldnt search it, but we have all had to find workarounds for searching for past e-mail messages and all those files on the C drive.
Ive been using X1 from X1.com and can confidently say that this product brings some sense to the randomness of my laptops contents.
"Ive dreamed about making sub-tenth-of-a-second real-time search of e-mail and files for nearly 20 years now ... and we finally did it," said Bill Gross, CEO of Idealab (which owns X1), when I told him that I was taking X1 for a test drive. Gross, who has had more than a few misses in his at-bats during the Internet era, hit a home run with this one.
A rich idea for the rich-media Web. High-speed Web access is closer to being the norm than the exception. Web-based commercials are edgier, more intelligent and better-received than their television counterparts. User expectations for services via the Web and delivered to computers, phones and PDAs are exceeding the tired offerings from vendors.
The idea that online customers will decide where they will shop and buy services based on their experiences via a companys Web presence is being accelerated by rich Web media. Product demos, interaction with company executives, and service offerings that are easy to use and to understand will become the expectation rather than the exception.
"In a lot of ways, it is the promise of the Web being fulfilled," Macromedia Chief Marketing Officer Al Ramadan told me during a recent product briefing. Ramadan is right, and Macromedia is ahead of the pack in providing the tools and systems to develop the rich experience.
Engaging rather than hiding. Despite the nightly news depicting the grim conflict the war on terrorism has become, the technology community seems to have forgotten that combat continues. Jim Hake, who I once worked with on the Global Information Infrastructure Awards, has done a superior job coming up with a way to combine technology, the Web and social conscience to answer the question "What can I do?" Check out www.spiritofamerica.net for his approach.
Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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