Google is 9 years old today, and what a 9 years it's been. There was a time when I had seen every public web page there was. It seems like only yesterday that "what's new" web sites were manageable, I even had one for awhile. I remember to first time I saw something funny on the web, the lunch pages, the coffee maker, the other first web cams and early hints at the copyright fire storms to come.
It wasn't long before HTTP become what people meant when they said "internet". It exploded. Internet news, commerce, interactive sites, Java, the browser wars, the dot-com silliness... And through it all Google did something simple that we all needed - it helped us find things. Google never made a browser. Google never made a web site that required it's software. Google never tried to lock people out and charge fees. It just provided a useful service, and sold unobtrusive ad space.
It worked, but Google didn't stop there. As one of the very few companies that "get it", Google has continued to provide new and (more importantly, useful) services. Today, an iGoogle page, Google mail, news, a few "portlets",web albums and you've got a window on the internet world that's hard to beat. And in fact, no one is beating it.
But there's more to do, and we all know it. Here to the years to come, and the products and services to be invented...
What I take away from this is that you don't need to be complicated to be successful. You don't need to sue people. You don't need tricks designed to herd customers into platform lock-in. Just create something that works, that does something people need and enjoy. A product that doesn't fight its customers, alone, may not assure riches, but a product that's in our way, that fights us, that sues us, that deliberately doesn't work with our other tools and refuses to fit in with our lives is sure to fail.