Nick Carr digs into Google CEO Eric Schmidt's assertions (via a contributed article to the Economist) that 2007 will be the year open internet standards "will sweep aside the proprietary protocols promoted by individual companies striving for technical monopoly. Today’s desktop software will be overtaken by internet-based services that enable users to choose the document formats, search tools and editing capability that best suit their needs."
Carr doesn't so much question the "if" of Schmidt's assertion, but rather whether the "when" is correct. He wonders if "Schmidt allowed confidence to become overconfidence."
With Google shares reaching 500 bucks, the topic of whether of not the company is being set up (or setting itself up) for a massive fall is top of mind.
Personally, I'd be scared to death to bet on any $500/share stock (if I could even afford to!). There are some fundamentals behind that (for example, growth, while still strong, is slowing period-over-period). But more importantanly, the market - while rational overall and over the long term - is scarily irrational at any given point in time. All it will take is one slight misstep for all the Google goodwill to evaporate.
That said, GOOG is one of the most important companies on the planet and that is not going to change (barring an Enron-like debacle), regardless of how long it remains a stock market darling. So, Schmidt's prediction, while bold, are hardly foolhearty. He is smart to take his shots (yes, even at Microsoft) from a position of strenght. At best, he creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. At worst, he is wrong about the timing. When has a botched prediction ever really hurt anyone?
Even if Schmidt's Economist article reveals a bit of hubris, Google's relatively unique position in the market means the benefits far outweigh the risks.
(On a total aside for my fellow flacks...a contributed article in the Economist? Talk about the hit of a career! :-) )