Saturday, July 11, 2009

The battle for control of user experience will rage on.

Whether on the desktop, in the browser, or the mobile device - The Giants of computing technology want to control the way you interact with the digital word.

The Google announcement of an impending Chrome operating system -as an extension of their browser by the same name- drew a huge reaction this week from all quarters of the web. Speculation and conjecture were rank amongst the bloggeratti. Handicapping Mountain Veiw's strategy & the potential impact to industry titans Microsoft & Apple, was (and still is) the meme de jour.

The take here on the Grid is that controlling the user experience is central to any company making software or interactive applications.

Google's revenue comes from advertising, but they are fundamentally a (web-based) software, or user experience company. Apple's revenue comes from selling hardware and devices, but they are fundamentally a software, or user experience company (the user experience company, many would argue). Even Facebook, Myspace, Digg etc are earning revenue from advertising, but if you stop and think about it, are fundamentally software, or more generally, user experience companies. (made valuable by virtue of facilitating electronic interaction for, and being a destination of multiple users)

Big bad old Microsoft, OTOH, still makes it's money selling software, but has to do web stuff & sell hardware in addition to that just to support and defend the legacy revenue stream.

The problem for a company like Microsoft is that software (like file storage & management, apps, etc) is going to eventually move to a web-centric, subscription based model.

So is Google trying to monetize the experience, bring it out onto the web more often, or get into your machine and control it?

The answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE. Ultimately the web is out in the cloud and on our local machines. It doesn't matter what the form factor is (pc, notebook, netbook, phone) or where the code running it lives.

If Google can control the experience it reinforces their other properties and future ones they roll out. It also paves the way for subscription based services, like file storage.

It's a multifaceted approach to be sure, from all players. At the end of the day, they all want the same thing: To control us, er...the user experience...and we let them, because they usually give us such cool toys to play with :)


Anonymous said...

I was reading last week that Facebook, Twitter, etc. aren't making any money and are arguing about how to do it. The two obvious possibilities are advertising and subscription, but execs don't think either would fly with users. The current idea seems to be selling information about users, their surfing habits, etc. Between this stuff and e-health records, there will be big fat virtual files on everybody in the country. Nice.

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