After some years of experience with WordPress, and generally being very familiar with the Google ecosystem, I am tempted to consider: will WordPress outlast Google?
I realize Google is on the ascendant, with a stock breaking the $1000 mark, products I own like the Nexus 7, and the Chromebook, best in their class — or sometimes only in their class — and with an ever increasing roster of the world’s über-geeks at Mountain View as well as nestled in international locals like the MATAM in Haifa and on McGill College Street in Montréal.
But why is Blogger so bad? Why are Google’s web products to do actual work, like Docs/Drive, so, well, mediocre?
Moreover, why can’t Google really diversify its revenue stream outside of its core AdWords innovation of a decade ago?
After just finishing Scott Berkun’s wonderful book The Year Without Pants about his one year “experimental” managerial job — if you can call it that — at WordPress (really at its commercial arm Automattic) something becomes clear…
The actual business model of WordPress, being at heart open source, with all kinds of ways to find commercial value on top of that, along with the ability to tap into such a rich growing ecosystem of amazingly inventive developers (more on the plugin side) and designers (more on the theme side), well, then, the question becomes:
Who is really powering the web: an aggregator who simply searches content, or the backend software tool used to design, write the content, and increasingly programmatically control more and more of the transactions taking place on the Internet?
Google may have a heavier dose of out-and-out geniuses working for them, but if the wider world — which may not quite buy into its Singularity-leaning ethos — and which is a bit grittier, and a bit more experimental, and a bit more ad-hoc than the Googlenet would have us believe, if they gravitate towards the creative potential of the tools around WordPress’ growing universe, the core, BuddyPress (bye-bye FB), Multisite (hello University campuses), etc, who might really be here still in 20 years from now when all computers are quantum and PageRank becomes another has-been Turing-test-step to something better?
People will still need webpages then and I am thinking there may be something beyond responsive design and an obscure WordPress developer in Dubrovnik is already working on a plugin for that.