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Monday, December 20, 2004

Why Google Is a Non-Portal

Like many other analysts, I've had a hard time assessing whether Google belonged in the portal category or not. If you were to look at a comparative feature set between Google and a portal like Yahoo, it might seem that Google should be classified as a portal. But if you look at the home pages of both sites, it's apparent from the sparse interface that Google ain't like the others. B-b-but, if all that good stuff isn't sreaming your face like on most portals, then where is it?!

Like Prego, it's "in there." But, under the surface, there's more to it than that. So what is it precisely that makes Google a non-portal?

Jefferson Graham of USAToday provides a very useful clue, thanks to Marissa Meyer:

For years, Google has said its focus was simply on search. Executives, often in language that can only be described as Google-speak, insist it still is.

"We want to be what the user wants, when he or she wants it, as opposed to everything the user might want, even if they don't," says Marissa Meyer, Google's director of consumer products.

"The portals overwhelm the user by throwing all these different tools at them," she says. "That's not us. We just want to get users to the highest-quality content."

Despite all the portal-like features such as Gmail and online maps, Google is about supplying the right information when and how the user wants it, in much the same way that AdWords ads are about serving up the product or service that the user wants, when and how they want it. That may seem like a small distinction on the surface, but with this new perception, it makes some of Google's recent moves less puzzling.

And here I was going to predict that Google was going to come out of the closet as a portal sometime next year! Trust the big G to zig when the others zag.

So what is Google, then? Um, how about an anti-portal? A find engine? A -- stay with me now -- direct information-on-demand engine (DIODE)? A search almanac? Argh, I dunno. How about some help here?

Posted by Cory Kleinschmidt




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