Home Best Web Bigco of 2006: Google

Best Web Bigco of 2006: Google

This is the third annual Best Web Companies round-up from Read/WriteWeb (see 2005 and 2004). This year
we’re spreading it out over 2 separate posts. In this post, we announce Best Bigco and
the runners-up – with our special brand of analysis too. In our next post, we’ll announce
Best Web LittleCo of 2006 and the Most Promising Web Company/Innovator.

Google: influential and all-round impressive

We lead off with a somewhat predictable choice for Best Bigco of 2006. In the poll we
to ask which Internet bigco most impressed you, 53% of respondents voted for
Google. Despite this, for a while we were tempted to pick Amazon (which was second in our
poll with 14% of the vote), due to its outstanding innovation. But when it came down to
it, Google’s influence and impact throughout 2006 has been second to none – so Google
once again gets the Read/WriteWeb Bigco of the Year honor (it was also the first
recipient, in

In terms of what Google released in 2006, there was a lot of it! Some were products of
real promise: e.g. Google Base, Google Docs
& Spreadsheets
, a much improved Google Reader.
But also there were some relative clunkers: e.g. Google Video didn’t live up to the hype,
‘Google Apps for your Domain’ was clumsily named and marketed, their Personalized
Homepage lacked oomph (although there are no lack of gadgets for it). In terms of new
products, Google’s 2006 effort will be remembered most for their canny acquisitions: not
only the big one, YouTube, but also
their Web Office purchases Writely and JotSpot.

Overall though, Google’s product range remains impressive. Their
mainstays, search and Adsense/Adwords, grew even more dominant during 2006 (although both
have threats looming against them in ’07). Meanwhile Google’s new products in 2006
displayed enough potential to make us think: well this company may not be a two-trick
pony after all. Looking ahead to 2007, we have our eyes on their Web Office moves in
particular, not to mention a possible OS!

Amazon: innovative, but not quite enough impact

In terms of sheer innovation, it’s hard to argue against Amazon being the most
innovative of the big Internet companies this year. They had unique web app releases that
started in late 2005 (e.g. Mechanical Turk) and
in 2006 rolled out a Web
Services platform
(Alexa web services,

, EC2, and more). But in
the end we had to question whether Amazon’s innovation made a big enough impact on the
mainstream market. After all, to be Best Web Bigco you need to be making a difference
in the lives of normal people. Regarding their e-commerce platform, which certainly is mainstream, it was business as usual
this year for Amazon – nothing spectacular in that department.

Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft: interesting…

What about the other bigcos: Apple had another impressive year and were rightly in the
top 3 in the R/WW poll (13%, just behind Amazon). There’s no doubt they are a stylish and
innovative company – and if this were just about digital media, Apple would be hands-down
winner of Best Web Bigco.

Last year’s R/WW Bigco winner, Yahoo, had a mixed year. There were some great products
and upgrades – a new-look Ajax
, Yahoo
, microformats
, great use
of APIs
, Yahoo
to span devices. But there were also questions… are they a technology company or
a media company? Is it Flickr or Yahoo Photos? These issues came to a head in the now
infamous peanut
butter memo
in November.

As for Microsoft, well they had a good year with the rollout of Windows Live and their
next generation web/desktop
development platform. There is a sense they’re playing catch up (e.g. with Zune), but
Microsoft showed in 2006 that they are a formidable competitor. And now with Ray Ozzie
in charge of software innovation, they have a Web Native champion to push them forward.
2007 may well be Microsoft’s year, so Google needs to be on its game!


So what do you think – do you agree with our choice of Google as Best BigCo? Well 53%
of you said you did, so perhaps the better question is – do you agree with our reasoning?
And what of the threats to Google in 2007… will it finally be the year Microsoft walks
away with the coveted R/WW title of Best Web Bigco? 😉 Or will Amazon’s web services innovations go mainstream? Perhaps Apple and digital media will be the next big thing – and don’t count Yahoo out in that domain either.

But for now, it’s Google’s year!

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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