Here is a great article by Robert Scoble on why Google is leading the pack and the rest are following.
Robert has hit the nail on the head with his analysis of the role of influentials in the uptake of new technology. Understanding your users and their needs is critical to those businesses who want to be exceptional.
My favourite part of the article is…
(Referring to Microsoft) We don’t know how to thrill influentials. Google does. Maybe by accident. Maybe by plan. I don’t care anymore. They found a way to bring us a little better search with advertising that sucked a lot less. That’s really why they are on fire.
How did they do it? They didn’t do it by doing committee meetings. By doing focus groups. By studying millions of users. They did it by understanding the leading edge of users and serving them well. They did NOT serve my dad well in the early days. It took me two years to switch my dad from AltaVista to Google. They DID serve ME well, though. On every user study I’ve seen I’m way off the end of the bell curve. But Google groks people like me. They serve people like me. And they romance people like me in a way that no other company does.
Hint: Google is still not doing things for my dad. They are doing things like Google Talk. For me. Things like Google video. For me. Not for the mass markets, but for the influentials.
So, when you see Microsoft not supporting Firefox out of the gate, you are seeing that we don’t get the role of influentials in gathering audiences.