Who would have thought a web site that started as searches for text strings could start to worry the biggest corporations on the planet? Well the New York times today in the article “Just Googling It Is Striking Fear Into Companies” points out that as more and more people are becoming active searchers (and in the future of course active personalizees) across a range of platforms, they are trusting less on market dominance and associated blanket advertising to make those important ‘buying decisions’

Wal-Mart is scarcely alone in its concern. As Google increasingly becomes the starting point for finding information and buying products and services, companies that even a year ago did not see themselves as competing with Google are beginning to view the company with some angst – mixed with admiration.
Google’s recent moves have stirred concern in industries from book publishing to telecommunications. Businesses already feeling the Google effect include advertising, software and the news media. Apart from retailing, Google’s disruptive presence may soon be felt in real estate and auto sales.

As in my recent post about Robin Sloans vision of a Google (Googlezon) dominated planet the evolving personalized information construct looking at a future some 8 years away, perhaps this really is the beginning of the end of the stranglehold of corporation and scarcity media? As the NY times article continues:

The company’s current lineup of offerings includes: software for searching personal computer files; an e-mail service; maps; satellite images; instant messaging; blogging tools; a service for posting and sharing digital photos; and specialized searches for news, video, shopping and local information. Google’s most controversial venture, Google Print, is a project to copy and catalog millions of books; it faces lawsuits by some publishers and authors who say it violates copyright law.

and this started as just basic search. Search is, as we all know, the foundation of personalization – once truly ubiquitous algorithm, agent based, profile capture of what is relevant to you kicks in – the conglomerates will be more than worried. Using a rather dodgy ‘going for a drive metaphor’ already blogs such as Gizmodo are steering many buyers, Amazon has provided a view of the long tail and shifted audiences/buyers to niche rather than mass – google is providing the map (not just Google maps!), get to anywhere from here. The real issue of course is that that anywhere is going to be quite different from where people use to travel to. Finally from the article Mr. Breyer, the Wal-Mart board member:

Internet search, like personal computing in its heyday, is a disruptive technology, he said, threatening traditional industries and opening the door to new ones.

Better be quick and work out what those new ones are before its too late.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005