Google is a unique software organization. A lot of their success in the market is different than a traditional software company that creates software, tests it, markets it and waits for momentum to create a successful ecosystem of partners and customers. Read any marketing book and the process is well documented. Google, on the other hand, uses a process unlike anything the computer industry has seen. I call this process the google sneak attack process. What is a Google Sneak Attack: design an elegant piece of software such as Google News, Google Finance, and Google Apps. These are applications that are often in beta for years. These applications are offered free of charge for the individual. Google doesn’t do massive marketing campaigns. It leverages its media brand to draw individuals and companies to try out these applications. In other words, it markets by word of mouth. By leveraging this approach, it can actually sneak under the radar and begin to build momentum. It is also interesting to read the terms and conditions for the use of Google Software. Clearly, Google is happy for you to use the software and tell all your friends and neighbors about it. But if you read the fine print, this changes if a software company wants to use any of the assets in a commercial manner. That is one of the key ways that Google will make money from its software assets — either in OEM arrangements or corporate licenses. In addition, many of these applications are supported by advertising.
But my point is not really to talk about the monetary approach that Google is taking — that is a topic for another day. The real issue is that being the benign purveyor of useful software to customers creates a foundational platform that gives Google clout in the market without traditional marketing engines. It is a good lesson for the software business to pay attention to. Long live the Google Sneak Attack engine!