Oh, Dave, I couldn’t say “clone the Google API” in public! But you did. So I’ll riff on it. I agree with it. I’ll even repeat it. Clone the Google API. Clone the Google API. Clone the Google API. Without the limits. Without the limits. Without the limits.
Here’s my riff:
See, there are two diseases at Microsoft:
1) We look at the world only through a businessperson’s eyes.
2) We have no clue about the power of influentials.
The first one makes us look like greedy, rapacious, businesspeople. And, generally, we are. Let’s just get that on the table here, OK? We would like to see our stock price go up. We would love to make a boat load of money. And be able to do even more to change the world. I don’t know why we try to run away from that, but the more we try to run away from the fact that we’re trying to make a profit here the less credible we’ll be.
The thing is, if we want to be in the advertising world, we need to be in the audience thrilling business. That’s not going to be easy for us. Why? Cause thrilling an audience is a different skill than identifying, strategizing, and executing a business plan (er, making a boatload of money). That’s why when you’re at a baseball game they try to hide the business guys off in some box somewhere. Or, why, during a rock concert they don’t let executives who wear ties out on stage. Unless it’s to write a check to some charity.
So, if we want to gather an audience together, we must think differently. We must do things that thrill audiences. We CAN NOT chase Google’s tailpipes. Audiences NEVER go for copies. Ever see all those copies of Star Wars? I saw a few. They all sucked. Not because they did anything wrong, but they were copies and we all knew it.
We need to go in new directions that Google isn’t going in.
And, in fact, that’s what Google is doing to us. Larry Page told me last week that teams inside Google often try to create projects to copy Microsoft. And he kills them. Why? Cause he knows that he will never get a big audience by copying something we do.
We also need to get out of the greedy mode. We need to share. Why will someone put Virtual Earth on their Web site? Well, let’s look at why Chris Pirillo puts a Google AdSense component on his site. THEY PAY HIM.
That tells Chris that, while Google might be a greedy group of businesspeople too who are trying to make a boatload of money, they SHARE WITH HIM some of that money!!!
We’ve gotta get that. That’s the whole key to having a successfull Internet advertising business.
This leads me to the second point.
2) We don’t know how to thrill influentials. Google does. Maybe by accident. Maybe by plan. I don’t care anymore. They found a way to bring us a little better search with advertising that sucked a lot less. That’s really why they are on fire.
How did they do it? They didn’t do it by doing committee meetings. By doing focus groups. By studying millions of users. They did it by understanding the leading edge of users and serving them well. They did NOT serve my dad well in the early days. It took me two years to switch my dad from AltaVista to Google. They DID serve ME well, though. On every user study I’ve seen I’m way off the end of the bell curve. But Google groks people like me. They serve people like me. And they romance people like me in a way that no other company does.
Hint: Google is still not doing things for my dad. They are doing things like Google Talk. For me. Things like Google video. For me. Not for the mass markets, but for the influentials.
So, when you see Microsoft not supporting Firefox out of the gate, you are seeing that we don’t get the role of influentials in gathering audiences.
Now, we’re not out of this game yet. It might be the end of the third quarter. Or the beginning of the fourth. We might be down 48-3. But, if we play a different game than Google we have a shot.
It’ll take doing things that Google can’t do. 1) Being transparent. 2) Supporting an open attention system. 3) Changing the search game by opening up its APIs. 4) Investing in gadgets and services that don’t have any monetization strategy other than to thrill audiences (er, influentials first).
If we do those four things then you’ll know we’ve really gotten this services thing. If not, well, I don’t want to even consider the possibility that we won’t. Those are my four agenda items for the next year.
And, yes, this little technical evangelist seven levels down from the CEO who makes less than $100,000, will bet his career on these four things. They are that important.
Oh, anyone see that Robert Scoble Services spells RSS? Heh!