What Google did at the I/O keynote was truly amazing. Put another way , I never really appreciated what convergence really meant till the keynote was done. I was convinced, THIS is THE most tightly knit, focussed and convergent company that exists right now. YES, Google presented a unifying vision at its I/O keynote , a vision more crystallized and consistent than Apple, Facebook, Twitter , Netflix , Microsoft, Sony or Amazon have laid out in the past 5 years.
When Larry Page took the stage at the end of the keynote. It became very clear that HE was the person behind the amazing coming-together of all of Googles disparate entities into one congruous whole. He was the person who led Google from the company that reluctantly dabbled into social networking to a company that built a powerful social layer that integrates seamlessly across its entire ecosystem.
It takes guts for a search company to keynote a section titled “The end of search”, it takes serious guts for a company to welcome competition in every sphere of its activity by continuing to build open systems, it takes even more guts for a company to invest time and energy into so many activities because they can , regardless of the profit motives behind it.
Think about it, this is a company that stitched together every LANDSAT image taken since the dawn of the program and made it available free for us all to use, This is a company that sent hikers with imager-backpacks on every trail in the US,sent underwater imagers into coral reefs and the amazon and uploaded all the data to the web, free for us to use and benefit from , because they CAN. This is a company that added a streetview layer on top of a majority of maps they publish , an image of every street they have driven down. This is a company that is creating a driverless car. This is a company that actually thinks of what it means to have an inter-planetary internet and uses the technology to bring the internet to remote reaches of our own planet.
And even though many media stories on Google , including yesterdays New York Times article follow the narrative that Google did something because of Apple, Facebook or . It was even more clear after this weeks keynote that while Google did get pushed into many areas to compete with others , it has now more than hit its stride. Every area that Google entered, it has built products or solutions infused with its DNA through and through. DNA that sets them apart from every other player in the field. A DNA which has openness at its very core!. A DNA which builds something just because it should be possible!.A DNA which embodies what JFK stated in his famous speech about going to the moon , Google chooses to tackle all these problems and more not because any of them are technologically feasible when they started , not because any of them are easy..but because they are hard!
There is something to be said for launching apps on a competitor platform simultaneously with a platform you own and control ( the Hangout app they launched last week ). I could download a books app that allowed me to load every non DRM book I own onto a Google app and it syncs automatically across all devices, regardless of which company makes that device, once again a testament to Googles openness.
While many criticize Google for building chrome , forking java , abandoning XMPP , JPG , H.264 or some other web standard, Google once more sent the message that they will do everything in their power to enhance the open web while relentlessly working to keep it moving forward , making it faster and better and YES more open! Granted many of these standards are Googles new “standards” , granted it drives a wedge in some otherwise open system used by the web..but there is no denying that the new proposal is always better and always open.
The message that came through loud and clear is that the vision that Larry and Sergey had for Google is stronger than ever. The big plans are only gettting bigger and Yes most importantly OPEN is winning. Its winning because its what makes Google, Google and allows them to make products that continue to fill ever growing technology niches. OPEN is the glue that binds it all together into one congruous whole that will continue to amaze us in the years to come.
Image credit: Alex Washburn / Wired ( creative commons )