RealTime IT News

The Google Pepsi Challenge

I came across an offline media journalist's piece the other day that took a peek at my favorite search engine, Google. The columnist used a broad brushstroke to determine why the start-up is so wildly popular with its users. Tops on her list were the superior search results retrieved by Google. In fact, that was the only supporting fact cited.

First off, that's likely the last in a long list of reasons most folks use this Web property. I can get comparable search results from most any 'portal' on the block, but Google boasts a smashing user experience that's head and shoulders above its peers.

Start with the layout. Simple hardly describes it. Refreshing is more like it. The company initially shunned advertising in its early stages, but since you've got to pay the light bills, the newcomer has since added text commercials to its layout without hijacking the user experience. Still simple, always refreshing.

Google's front page logo is constantly in the holiday spirit. Over the Easter weekend, the double 'Os' quietly morphed into a couple of decorated eggs. There's a real sense that the programmers on the other end have a terrific sense of humor, and these guys aren't afraid to have a little fun. Something the Web could desperately use a nutritious dose of.

But for a cyber-sleuth like me, the superstar's real killer app lies in its cached Web pages. How many times have you punched in a search, only to find the subsequent page missing in action? Well, Google has been diligently cataloguing many dinosaurs of the Web on its own servers.

That means two key things. When a Web page no longer exists, Google gives you a peek at it anyway. If you haven't tried it yet, you'll love it. It's like finding buried treasure, and it's one of the true gems of the Internet. Not every Web site is corporate, and some of the best nuggets can be found on some average Jane's dedicated GeoCities Web page that no longer exists. Until now.

And lastly, how many times do you try to access a company home page that's having a server traffic jam. Now, you don't have to wait. Just click the cached copy on Google's own ultra-reliable servers and skip the headaches altogether.

I've had lengthy philosophical discussions with my colleagues on how much of the Web's history is disappearing without a trace, and no one seems to be concerned. Since much of the Web's history is simply bits and bytes, it would be a shame not to cram it onto a room full of servers, forever available to the ages.

Not to worry. Google's got it covered, and it's by far the best killer app since broadband's "always on" feature. Users should note that Google has since changed the term "Cached copy" to "Show matches." I'm crossing my fingers that the switcheroo isn't related to any heat over copyright violations.

It won't be long before the venture-backed Google winds its way toward the new issues market, but when it does, I'll grab a few shares. Unlike many mega-portal rivals on the Internet, this understated search engine understands its users. If you haven't used it, give it a shot. Then you'll see what all the fuss is about.

GoPublicNow.com (OTCBB: GNOW) announced plans to pour money into GoBizNow.com today. I received an e-mail from the company's IR firm just over a month ago, asking me to look into GoPublicNow and maybe do a piece on its newly unveiled B2B initiative.

With a little help from Google's killer app, I did look into it, and the company has had quite a makeover. Surf on over and have a look-see yourself. GoPublic is a snazzy site sporting itself as a business-to-business financial Web portal. In an idea as ol