The travails of being big and successful, Google-style

Google is big and strong, and that's one of its problems. But it's a problem we'd all love to have.

It's very hard to earn billions of revenue and profit each year. Painful, even! Or so the San Jose Mercury News would have us think about Google. It's hard to be successful!

I assume that Google would rather be in this position than in the alternative position: no one cares about your product/service enough to sue you, reverse engineer you or bother in any way with you.

Google, being successful, has the opposite problem:

But Google's precocious performance has come at a price: antitrust regulators in the United States are probing its proposed $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick, an Internet advertising company, and European regulators are poised to follow suit. Meanwhile, open-source activists are developing alternatives to Google's popular search engine.

It's a position that Google's top rival, Microsoft, knows all too well. Less than a decade ago, the same combination of colorless bureaucrats and colorful coders helped end the software giant's spectacular growth spurt, sending its stock into a seven-year slump.

I don't think Google has much to worry about in its search business, including from open-source competitors like Jimmy Wales' new open-source search engine. OpenAds, on the other hand, is a clear and present danger, in my opinion, as I've written before .

But let's be clear: Google is at the top of its game, and getting stronger. Does success breed contempt? Sure. But it also breeds success. The US and EU tried to take Microsoft down and both failed, despite hitting Microsoft with some fines. I don't imagine that any bureaucrat is going to be able to put a dent into Google's torrid growth. Only the market can do that, as it is doing to Microsoft.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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