Image via Wikipedia
by Kevin Maney
You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off that ole Lone Ranger—unless you’re Google. Then you feel defiant in the face of powerful forces, in this case the historical trend that has knocked previous tech colossi to their knees.
The technology industry operates on grand generational cycles, and those cycles are speeding up. A profound invention creates a new generation of products and a new winner-take-most-of-it leader. The cycles have already deposed IBM and then Microsoft from their tech-industry thrones.
But Google just shrugs, like a teenager told that if he doesn’t stop playing video games, he’ll wind up as a career Wal-Mart greeter. “Most of the emphasis within the company is on the next couple of years, and we tend not to think about longer than that,” says Peter Norvig, Google’s director of research.
Once upon a time, IBM was technology’s superpower. For decades, Big Blue lorded it over an era of big computers in big companies, heavily influencing technology and crushing competitors. Through the mid-1980s, no one could imagine how IBM could stumble.