It is always fun/surprising to have a vast expanse of evolution put together into one easy to see picture, as in the case of Google's evolution above.
1. It is hard to believe Google is just 15 years old. From domain registration to evolving search to DoubleClick to YouTube to Android to automated cars to Glass to balloons beaming down the internet in just 15 years. 15.
As an employee, as a user, and a deep lover of disruptive innovation, it has been amazing to see all this hyper-speed evolution and see its benefits.
Predicting the future is always a career-limiting move, so I won't. I do believe that to ensure it stays relevant and useful for the next 15 years, Google will figure out how to keep delivering on its innovation agenda. The company will learn a lot of lessons from those efforts, and so will the rest of us.
2. My biggest surprise from this timeline was how quickly we all become spoiled/take things for granted. Two quick examples...
I dislike any search (web search, intranet search, Windows file search) that does not have instant results as I type. I dislike the fact that the right answer is not instantly there after I type two characters. :) But that has only been around on Google since 2010, less than three years!
I open my phone when I land in Santiago, Chile, and the Google Now widget on my phone’s home screen has the local currency conversion, it has the key phrases I can use (depending on time of day), it has maps to my appointments, and based on my past behavior it recommends the local spots I would love (hikes, museums). Without me telling it anything. All I did was unlock my phone. I’ve only had it for a year, and yet it feels like I’ve had it for 900 million years!
There is a lesson in that for companies. People like me, crazy consumers, love your latest innovation and a couple months later take it for granted and are ready for the next one. Nay, demand the next one! Your challenge is… are you structured to deliver against this speeded up cycle of expectations, are your people incentivized to help you be a perpetual innovation machine?
My favorite companies that do both of the above things, some for longer than Google, are Life Technologies (sciences), GoPro (products), RedBull (media), Amazon (digital and beyond), Patagonia (marketing), and Siemens (engineering).
The mantra innovate or die was never more true.
Happy birthday Google.