I recently picked up and raced through Randall Stross’ Planet Google and very much enjoyed it I had read Stross’ The Microsoft Way a few years ago and also found it to be very informative. This time, he covers the “it” company of the last ten years. Other than Apple, no company has enjoyed such a meteoric rise in the past decade as Google.
The chapters cover Google’s main endeavors, from Google Book Search (formerly Google Print) to Google Voice to Google Docs. Each product or product group is covered in a reasonable level of detail. Stross also provides a solid historical context of Google’s challenges, especially in relation to other computing stalwarts (read: Microsoft). In other words, Stross is not so glossy-eyed over Google’s success that he overlooks some comparable historical precedents.
Other than Apple, no company has enjoyed such a meteoric rise in the past decade as Google.
Stross is also not afraid to call a spade a spade: he unapologetically calls Google out for some well-advertised missteps over privacy, copyright infringement, and other snafus. His writing style is very digestible and I never felt lost reading about more technical concepts, such as cloud computing, indexing the web, or Google’s legendary algorithm.
I do have a few complaints. I would really have liked to see more about the two company’s founders. Larry Page and Sergey Brin are given short shrift. (Perhaps this is because the book is about the company and not its two co-founders.) I feel like I don’t know that much more about them after reading Planet Google. This book easily could have used another 30 to 50 pages on two of the most intelligent and important business figures of their era. Google’s too important these days to condense its history into 200 pages.
In the end, this is an excellent book with a great deal of well-written content. I’ll be picking up some of Stross’ other books pretty soon.