American business should follow Google

By Patrick Burke

At any point in its meteoric rise to the top of the business world, was truly the most efficient and convenient search engine on the web? Blinded by Google’s breathtaking success since its inception in May of 1998, it is easy to presume that the search engine was simply better than the rest. The fact of the matter is, however, it was not through maximizing the web-surfing experience that Google rose to the top. Google has succeeded rather through an uncanny brand of commercial ingenuity that is sadly lacking in American business today. Having recently demonstrated signs of moving into alternate sources of media, such as radio and television, Google’s business model is definitely one to be envied and, for the sake of the future of American entrepreneurship, imitated.

Ailing airline companies such as United and American have undergone so many mindless, short-sighted internal transformations in the past months to no avail. Despite revised ad campaigns and massive restructuring, United and American are still fighting to survive. Struggling businesses such as the aforementioned airlines should cease their frantic emergency maneuvers and get back to the basics. Although the business model of Google will without a doubt grow much more complex over the next few years (the next few months even), the internet company has primarily advanced itself through a solid yet undeniably savvy commercial methodology. Most importantly, Google is highly aware of the limits of its particular business model. To elaborate, Google knows what business it is in, unlike many American corporations in this day and age. Google’s business, of course, begins and ends with advertising. The obvious, logical, and most lucrative progression for Google now that it has conquered the web is to move into radio and television.

Returning to the myriad of convalescent airline companies, in contrast to Google, they have seemingly forgotten what business they are in, namely flying. The majority of the airline companies have mysteriously appeared to pursue image redefinition campaigns in response to their financial woes. United seems to believe that inculcating a certain elitism into its image by enhancing first class seating options will be its redemption. Although United’s first-class campaign has not been a total financial disaster in the short run, such a maneuver cannot single-handedly ensure future financial stability for the airline. Google has faced many competitors over the years whose business structure was nearly identical. Nevertheless, undaunted, Google did not settle for a specific niche as ailing airline companies are now intent on doing. Google surpassed rival search engines by outplaying them for advertisers. Once Google had cornered the market, its image fell perfectly into place.

In order to compete on the level of budget airlines such as Southwest and Jet Blue, larger airlines such as United and American must not settle for a specific commercial niche. United and American will not regain their status of old by focusing on a restricted group of customers. United and American cannot concede that there are certain customers of Southwest and Jet Blue who simply cannot be reached. Google has flourished through balancing innovation with good business principles. United and American, as well as many other struggling American businesses, must do the same.