The other day I noted that there are foundational differences in the big search companies out there. And I was wondering how this will play out in the game taking place (an interesting game I think). I noted this distinction while in a conversation where a friend of mine said "search companies are new media companies" and I disagreed vehemently launching into a long argument.
My friend asked "what are they then?" And I said "well, media companies, to me, are companies that want you to SPEND TIME WITH THEM so they can throw advertisements at you, like a newspaper, a tv channel, you name it". So their metrics, particular tv companies, are measured in how much time per month you spend with them. Say 6 hours a month watching their channel.
Now, here is where it gets interesting. Some search companies ARE MEDIA companies. They focus on how to get more of your attention. But there are others (fill in the name) who want you to spend MINIMAL time with them, they are TRANSPORT companies. They just want to get you where you want to go. So the LESS time you spend with them and the faster you get where you want to go the better. It just might be that when you are looking for where you want to go you see an ad for a relevant destination and you head that way, and they collect some money for that.
This model is that of a TRANSPORT company, helping you go where you want to go. And the faster you get there, the better the experience. Imagine an airline or train company that tried to make you spend MORE time on a plane, and the executives tried to figure out ways to distract you along the way so that a 4 hour trip became an 8 hour trip with additional distractions at the airport, in customs, and other stuff. Come on! Be serious. How long would they be in business?
This is not to say that transport companies don't want your business. They do. They just don't want you to spend time on a plane or a bus. They DO want you to use them whenever you want to go somewhere. Their mantra might be "travel often with us, we'll take you where you want to go faster than anyone else".
Of course, transport companies are valuable if there are plenty of destinations to go and I have a hard time getting there. In a small universe, I'll walk everywhere. So the LARGER the universe and the harder it is to travel the maze, the more valuable a transport company.
One more thought before I finish this. Have you noticed that some internet companies resemble pharmaceuticals? They have hundreds or thousands of projects and from these only a few make it along the pipeline to become marketable products. They run experiments. Other big internet companies, instead, resemble automakers, with few projects along the way. What is better? Well, I would say it depends on what era we live in. In an era where there is a lot of room for innovation/disruption, then the pharma model wins, while in an era where there is little disruption, then the automaker model wins (more conservative and only incremental improvements).