We know so much about Google (about it’s offers), yet so little about it (never truly reveals plan to public). Your Google case study is a very good one, let’s follow Google from now on and see how strategies plays out in the future progress of the company.
I like what you said that Google had occupied its space, but not exceed the space. Given the fact that Google has owned 70% of search market share, the growth in the remaining market would be a challenge particularly at the rate it has accomplished in the past. The advertising revenue although has much more room to grow, it is an old tune that Google has sung for the past a few years, what the street is also looking for are innovations to bring over new revenue streams such as corporate appliances, software application as services. It is those ones that make MSFT nervous.
Google has created a tremendous successful consumer utility – a search engine or capabilities for common end users (not sure if they are also the customers by definition). It appears aligned with its vision or mission. However, such a needed utility did not directly bring Google revenue; it is the “sponsors links” and other functions that brought in revenue for Google.
Let’s review the theme - “to create customer - It is the customer who determines what a business is. It is the customer alone whose willingness to pay for a good, or for a service converts economic resource into wealth, things into goods. What the customer buys and considers value is never just a product. It is always a utility, that is what a product or service does for him.”
So by the definition above the customers should be the corporations that pay Google to advertise their products, not the end users who use the search engine.
In my observation, the strategies of many internet companies are: to provide useful utilities to end users (let it be Flickr, YouTube or facebook, etc. free of charge if possible), and to attract as many end users as possible and sell online advertising space to generate revenue.