Based on unprecedented access he received to the highly secretive "Googleplex," acclaimed New York Times columnist Randall Stross takes readers deep inside Google, the most important, most innovative, and most ambitious company of the Internet Age. His revelations demystify the strategy behind the company's recent flurry of bold moves, all driven by the pursuit of a business plan unlike any other: to become the indispensable gatekeeper of all the world's information, the one-stop destination for all our information needs. Will Google succeed? And what are the implications of a single company commanding so much information and knowing so much about us?
As ambitious as Google's goal is, with 68 percent of all Web searches (and growing), profits that are the envy of the business world, and a surplus of talent, the company is, Stross shows, well along the way to fulfilling its ambition, becoming as dominant a force on the Web as Microsoft became on the PC. Google isn't just a superior search service anymore. In recent years it has launched a dizzying array of new services and advanced into whole new businesses, from the introductions of its controversial Book Search and the irresistible Google Earth, to bidding for a slice of the wireless-phone spectrum and nonchalantly purchasing YouTube for $1.65 billion.
Google has also taken direct aim at Microsoft's core business, offering free e-mail and software from word processing to spreadsheets and calendars, pushing a transformative -- and highly disruptive -- concept known as "cloud computing." According to this plan, users will increasingly store all of their data on Google's massive servers -- a network of a million computers that amounts to the world's largest supercomputer, with unlimited capacity to house all the information Google seeks.
The more offerings Google adds, and the more ubiquitous a presence it becomes, the more dependent its users become on its services and the more information they contribute to its uniquely comprehensive collection of data. Will Google stay true to its famous "Don't Be Evil" mantra, using its power in its customers' best interests?
Stross's access to those who have spearheaded so many of Google's new initiatives, his penetrating research into the company's strategy, and his gift for lively storytelling produce an entertaining, deeply informed, and provocative examination of the company's audacious vision for the future and the consequences not only for the business world, but for our culture at large.
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Table of Contents
1. Open and Closed
2. Unlimited Capacity
3. The Algorithm
4. Moon Shot
6. Small World, After All
7. A Personal Matter
8. Algorithm, Meet Humanity
Conclusion Notes Acknowledgments Index
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Planet Google was a very interesting book about the rise of Google as a search engine and as a company. Randall Stross did a great job writing this book. Even though at some points it was hard to understand I would definitely recommend it. The book contains all about how Google tries to organize everything we know. At some points the tone is very serious and business like but at other points it’s joking and laid back. I would say that the message of this book is that Google can be looked in a bad way but it is not a bad company and they don’t read your emails and look through your calendar. In other words Google is a good company that people misunderstand. The book had a definite impact on me. I found it captivating at some points and also very boring at other parts. The impact it had on me was that just because something stands in your way like Microsoft in this book or you don’t know how to do something like digitalize all the books in the world, you shouldn’t give up. If Google can do it so can I!
Planet Google is an extremely-well written history of the internet giant Google. Randall Stross, the author, thoroughly used the 200 sources his credited in the back on his book and his personal contact inside Google to give the account of the company. And clearly gets out the message: Google wants to organize the entire world's information. Stross writes in a journalistic style which manages to keep the reader's attention. His transitions from paragraph to paragraph keep the reader's interest in the story at a maximum level. While he is long-versed for one who is not as familiar with computer and business, he helps to put the story in terms which the reader can relate to. The tone of the story clearly shows that Stross is very-versed in the world of computers and excellent source for this information. He gives his opinions on the well-known subject while also injecting the opinions of Google employees and employees of other companies. He is also knowledgeable in knowing what exactly was going on at each time period on the Google timeline. Planet Google is an excellent history for anyone wishing to know almost everything about Google without even logging on to the site.
Stross' review of Google provides excellent insight into the corporate culture of the search giant. Google is unlike any company today. It's vision to organize the worlds information is a task that seems impossible, yet if anyone can do it, it will be Google. Stross presents a balanced analysis of Google's strengths (creativity, innovation, the ability to solve any problems, capital), and weaknesses (forgetting the concerns of end-users, strategic errors in web video, news and social networking). Please be aware, however, that Stross' writing style is a little ADHD. He jumps around from topic to topic and his chapters are very loosely arranged around a theme. As long as you can keep multiple story lines and details mentally organized, you will enjoy this book.