It will only be a matter of time before someone with a better idea or service will come along and brush Google aside.
That was the message Vint Cerf, also known as one of the fathers of the Internet, delivered to Pocket-lint in a one-on-one interview. He's currently one of Google's Vice Presidents and resident Chief Internet Evangelist, but he's most notably known for his part in creating the TCP/IP protocol that powers the Internet we know and love today. He's seen the beginning of the Internet and seemingly knows where it is going.
In the interview, he refers back to the mid 1990s when the Internet began to infiltrate our homes. AltaVista was the number one tool for seeking out new life in a wild, virtual frontier. Eventually Yahoo came along and took the search engine throne away from AltaVista. Offering additional services other than search, it thrived in tons of advertisement revenue until Google crashed the scene and seemingly knocked Yahoo out of the public eye. This is why Cerf believes that Google will eventually be dethroned -- because someone with a more robust service will eventually emerge, sword drawn and ready to do battle with the reigning Search King and its Android sidekick.
"There's nothing to stop someone from developing better technology than we have and to invent something even more powerful and efficient and effective," he said. "Which, of course, scares us. And that's good because it means we run as fast as we can to develop better tools for search in order to try to stay ahead of the game."
"We absolutely know that there could be somebody just like Larry and Sergey [Page and Brin of Google] on some university campus with an idea we don't have that could explode on the scene and take the business away," he added.
What he didn't say was the Google may not be knocked off the mountain for some time to come. Unlike its predecessors, Google has more than just a search engine, email system, chat client and news feed: it has two operating systems that connect directly to its cloud services. It has an entertainment network offering movies to rent, music to purchase, books to buy and read, and apps compatible with its Android mobile OS. It's reportedly gearing up to launch a Nexus tablet, wireless entertainment systems, and it's already infiltrated the HDTV market.
That said, the next heavyweight contender to take on Google will need an even bigger offering in order to draw loyal users away. But even the Father of the Internet can see the end of the road for Google because that's what history has dictated thus far. In some ways, it's interesting to speculate what the next search engine giant will bring to the table that Google hasn't already conjured up.
Cerf recently spoke at the launch of the Virgin Media-supported Life Online exhibition for the National Media Museum in Bradford. He indicated that he and his fellow pioneers didn't expect the "national network" to become so populated so fast.
"In 1973 we thought it would be expensive to build a national network," he told the audience. "You have to appreciate that we were living in a time of $50,000 computers that people time shared on. We predicted that there would be 256 networks, two per country, and then 16 million computers per nation. We ran out of that IPv4 32-bit address space in February 2011."
Does that mean we've finally reached the end of the Internet? Nope. Say hello to IPv6 and the 128 bits of virtual space it will offer in June 2012. "That's 34 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses and that number is enough to cover the foreseeable use of the internet - or at least until I'm dead and it's somebody else's problem," he mused.
Maybe that's where Google's true arch enemy lays waiting for the kill: out in the IPv6 universe somewhere [insert cheesy 50s sci-fi whistling background music here].