修补匠的学徒

柏林——最好的发明永远都不会结束。德国工程师卡尔·本茨发明第一辆石油动力汽车时,他所发明的不仅是带轮子的发动机;他所驱动的是彻底改变社会结构的全新行业。同样,英国计算机科学家蒂姆·伯纳斯·李不仅建成了世界第一家网站,同时也为万维网奠定了基础。这两位先驱都不可能预料到自己所作所为所产生的影响。

经济决策者在2015年及以后应当吸取如下教训:即诞生于发明的行业就像发明本身一样生机勃勃。2014年的经历告诉我们,上述教训尚未被完全记取。

谷歌推出时,人们惊奇地发现只要往电脑里敲几个字,他们就可以找到想了解的一切。背后的操作机制在技术上非常复杂,但由此得出的结果却相当直接:那就是一页文字,其中包含10个蓝色的链接。这确实比什么都好,但按照今天的标准还没有好到极致。

于是我们的创业合伙人拉里·佩奇和谢尔盖·布林像其他成功发明家一样不断改进。他们开始引入图片。毕竟,人们想要的不仅是文字。2000年格莱美颁奖仪式后上述趋势开始显现,颁奖仪式上珍妮弗·洛佩兹的一袭绿裙吸引了全世界的注意。当时这成了有史以来最流行的搜索热词。但我们却无法为用户提供他们想要的东西:珍妮弗·洛佩兹身着那件裙子。谷歌图片搜索应运而生。

地图是另一个典型的例子。当人们在谷歌上搜索地址时,他们要找的不是提到这条街道的链接。他们想要知道如何到达那里。于是我们做出了可以点击、拖动和轻松浏览的地图。现在地图已经成了谷歌不可或缺的组成部分,以至于多数用户或许都无法想象没有地图是什么样子。

我们的许多变化也是如此。随着时间推移我们的搜索结果日臻完善。你所在地的谷歌天气能够显示未来数天的预报结果,为你节省了大量的时间和精力。

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但谷歌直接回答问题的努力却引来了欧盟委员会的投诉。 Expedia、Yelp和TripAdvisor这样的企业提出谷歌搜索抢走了他们网站有价值的流量,导致他们的企业在竞争中陷入不劣势。他们不希望我们直接提供图片、地图、天气、新闻或经过翻译的国外网站,而宁愿退回到10个蓝色的链接。

几年前,我们某家竞争企业的律师画了一幅画,上面有一条海岸线和零星几个岛屿。他又画了一条虚线,说这是连接岛屿和大陆的唯一渡口。他想说谷歌就像渡船一样,是浏览互联网的唯一方式。

现实是,网上浏览有很多方式。想看新闻可以直接登录喜欢的新闻网站。如果想买东西,可以直接登录Zalando和亚马逊搜索款型及价格、浏览评论并且付款购买。

问题是我们所处的经济大势不仅充满竞争;而且变化不息。今年,我们的行业已经达到了重要的里程碑。人们在移动端上所花的时间第一次超过台式机。花在台式机上的时间已经降到只有40%。而且人们使用移动端和台式机时采取截然不同的方式。移动端使用时间的八分之七都在使用应用程序,而世界最热门的程序是Facebook。

很多人认为没有竞争者能击败Facebook、谷歌、苹果和亚马逊这样的企业。我却不这样认为。历史上随处可见体量和过往成功不等于任何保障的例子。大公司可以被迅速超越。就在几年前,雅虎、诺基亚、微软和黑莓这样的企业似乎还无可匹敌。从那以后他们似乎被一波高科技企业的浪潮所吞没——谷歌也是新兴的高科技企业之一。

谷歌与其他被冠以“看门人”称号的公司运作及监管方式有着很大差异。我们不是一艘渡船、一条铁路、一张电网或电信网,为您提供单向、没有竞争空间的服务。没有人被逼迫使用谷歌。人们有选择权,并且可以随时行使。我们知道如果我们不再有用,我们的用户就会开始流失。行业门槛几乎可以忽略不计,因为我们和竞争对手间只隔一次点击。

某间车库里有人正在瞄准谷歌,2015年他们就可能采取行动。我对这一点心知肚明,因为不久前的我们还待在那间车库。就像谷歌没有模仿AOL那样,我知道下一个谷歌也不会重复谷歌的道路。

人们很少料到重大技术革命所带来的动荡。电报葬送了邮政。收音机和电视扰乱了报纸。飞机终结了远洋客轮。发明总是充满活力;这也解释了为什么未来永远像过去那样令人振奋。

翻译:Xu Binbin

http://prosyn.org/T9Ji6WD/zh;
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