Technology's "Killer" Distraction

A new search engine, Cuil, is attracting the requisite “Google killer” coverage. Thankfully, Seth Godin provides some much-needed perspective:

I have no doubt that someone will develop a useful tool one day that takes time and attention away from Google, but it won’t be a search engine. Google, after all, isn’t broken, not in terms of solving the iconic “how do I find something online using my web browser” question.

I have no beef with Cuil itself (the handful of queries I ran worked fine), but this “killer” business is another matter. In the history of tech prognostications, has an upstart killer ever successfully terminated its target? More importantly, what possible benefit do any of us get from this type of analysis?

I can only imagine the useful commentary we would see if the killer oeuvre could be stricken from the record. The bombastic flavor-of-the-day cycle might be replaced with actual thoughts about the future of particular applications and their accompanying industries. Perhaps we’d even stop shoehorning lightning-in-a-bottle success stories into unrelated products (e.g. the Kindle/iPod comparisons). And maybe we’d finally see that the exciting developments — the products and experiments that really stir things up — come from people who focus on creation rather than dominance.

As Seth eloquently notes:

… success keeps going to people who build new icons, not to those that seek to replace the most successful existing ones.

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