The Elephant in the Room:
Up until now I have barely mentioned the G-word. Google managed to stay out of this conversation because it has become what I am going to refer to as an Omnibrand. Brand saturation so complete that it is like air. You breathe it, you need it, but you barely think about it unless it is not there. Google has avoided Monopoly issues in the EU and the States which have plagued Microsoft, even though Google dominates the online Ad Space. If you ask 20 people on the street what Google is none of them will tell you that Google is an ad company. So much of the internet economy is tied to Google that all of the advice and all of the branding, and all of the examples about Microsoft and Apple get dwarfed by the simple fact that if you want a successful Web 2.0 company you need to get people to click on Google Ads.
This is not the original dot com boom. Web 2.0 you are expected to have a business model, and that model is advertising. If you are going to give customers something for free you have to make that money somewhere and that somewhere is ads. Google owns that space. 32% of online advertising dollars are spent at Google.
How did Google achieve these results? Buy following all of the lessons I laid out in the previous cases, even the ones that conflict with each other. Google is tough to compete with because Google spends so much time and money and resources building absolutely everything that they are bound to have success at something. Google takes almost no input on their main search, but they have Google Co-Op for letting you tweak their results. They deliver features you can’t live without but never knew you needed. They build community through API’s and Embrace Open Standards.