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Blankenhorn: Has Google's Larry Page Lost the Plot?

The best tech companies think different. That's not just an Apple (AAPL) slogan. It's an industry imperative.

Doing what everyone else is doing is a recipe for disaster. Google became Google by thinking differently. Now it seems to be thinking like every other company -- about its corporate imperatives, its own success, rather than the growth of its people or its customers.

There's no longer anything in any of its products that rivals can't replicate. An Android phone is a "me-too" iPhone. A Chromebook is a slimmed-down PC. Some of its services, like Google Finance, now look second-rate next to Yahoo!. Google Plus is not Facebook (FB). Google seems to be slowly losing its imagination, its joie de vivre, becoming just another company.


You can call that "grown up" if you want. I call it stale. And what's the big deal about being "grown up" anyway? It just means you're getting old.

It's possible I'm just being cranky here. I am one of those reporters who depended upon Google Reader for a quick daily look at sources I trust, and help in identifying new ones. Every blogger I know, who's now making a living from their writing, started with an RSS feed -- an XML file that could be collected, and delivered by a product like Google Reader.

Once there were dozens of such readers. But Google's was better, and it was free. The competition was killed. By killing Google Reader, Google is trying to kill RSS, and the route young writers would take to get the attention they need to become great writers.

Pulling up the ladder after you've climbed into bed, turning a collection of strong entrepreneurs into a crew of yes men, and becoming a big swinging dictator may make you feel better, but it makes you vulnerable to the first kid who comes along with a clue, the first one to come along who thinks different.

He's out there. Maybe she's out there. They're going to kick Larry Page's butt. Just you watch.

At the time of publication, the author was long GOOG, YHOO and IBM.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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