Anti-trust regulators, privacy advocates and others are afraid of Google's growing power. And Google is likely to grow faster than a baseball player on steroids. But its continued success is not a simple matter of momentum. It's moving into areas that need more expertise that Google has at the moment, and it needs to fill gaps in its team of developers.
1. Google needs more grunt work programmers.
Google arguably has the best computer scientists in the world but they can't seem to finish a product. As it moves into things like browsers, operating systems and productivity tools, it needs a strong group of cleanup batters. It can't just keep jumping into new product areas, which is what A-team players like to work on. It has got to start doing the grunt work to get them out of beta. And those grunts have to be treated as though they're as important as the superstars, because they are.
I use the Google Chrome browser. But in its default configuration, it supports Yahoo and Outlook and other email programs, but does not support its own Gmail! When I click on an email address through the browser it fires up my wife's Yahoo account.
According to its support site, a lot of people have trouble figuring out how to set Gmail as the default email program in the Chrome browser. I still haven't figured it out. That's an absurd situation -- and does not exactly support the argument that Google ties its products together, one of the main things anti-trust types worry about.
2. Google needs some extraordinary hardware designers. Think iPad, iPod, iPhone.
Google is now competing with Apple. It cannot match the elegant design sense that Steve Jobs brings to his devices. Google should spend a lot of money to find some of these folks who are not currently working for Apple.
The designers need to work closely with the software developers to make sure things run smoothly. Apple's design capability is the one thing that makes Jobs's vertically-integrated strategy work. But it can be done without that link. The hardware designers must make the designs available to hardware manufacturers as a gold standard, while still letting any of them create their own designs under a rigid set of guidelines. Competition will choose the best designs.
Steve Jobs does not like Google these days. What if he were to decide to ban Google apps from the iPhone or other products? It would hurt Apple users, but I can imagine Steve Jobs giving it a shot. Google needs to make sure it has some insanely great products out there in order to maintain momentum.
THEN the anti-trust folks can really start worrying.