Google seems to be more than just a company. It's also a cultural phenomenon, so much so that you have to wonder how much of a basis there is in reality.
So here at the smoke and gin-filled Mixed Signals newsroom, after we started bitching about how much the Google RSS reader sucks, we decided to violate all of our rules and actually call someone who knows what they're talking about... someone who might know whether Google is God, as we are led to believe, or not.
Brian Cooley, Editor-at-Large at CNET, agreed with our basest of instincts (that anytime someone is held up as an example of goodness they are obviously stealing money out of the collection plate). He said Google is mostly a "perpetual motion machine, succeeding because it succeeds." The Paris Hilton of the tech world.
Cooley acknowledges that Google has a lead on numbers of pages indexed, (8.8 billion, compared to MSN's 5.5 and Yahoo's 4.2). But numbers aren't everything. It's really only the top 10 or so results that matter — the results that are most useful to you. He claims that all the search engines are about as good as each other on that point.
He does give Google props for Google Earth (with which I wholeheartedly agree) and for its photo editor Picasa. But he says the Google video store is "the worst on the Web." (I'd add in the RSS reader too, on the bad side, but I have to say that Google News is pretty damn good, and I use Gmail for my personal stuff).
But Cooley claims Google can be dethroned, by a new startup in a new field... stay tuned.
Danny Sullivan over at Searchenginewatch.com has these two posts on why he loves Google and why he hates it. His views are much more informed than this piece.
But in writing this, I realize what's been bugging me about Google. It's that I have such an ingrained faith that it's the best, that when I run across something that sucks (did I mention the RSS reader?) it makes me doubt my whole faith, and I assume I've been duped the whole time.