Another quote from Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail:
Likewise for Google, which seems both omniscient and inscrutable. It makes connections that you or I might not, because they naturally emerge from math on a scale we can’t comprehend. Google is arguably the first company to be born with the alien intelligence of the Web’s “massive-scale” statistics hardwired into its DNA. That’s why it’s so successful, and so seemingly unstoppable.
Author Paul Graham puts it like this:
The Web naturally has a certain grain, and Google is aligned with it. That’s why their success seems so effortless. They’re sailing with the wind, instead of sitting becalmed praying for a business model, like print media, or trying to tack upwind by suing their customers, like Microsoft and the record labels. Google doesn’t try to force things to happen their way. They try to figure out what’s going to happen, and arrange to be standing there when it does.
I’ve never read a more-concise distillation of the very essence of Google.