Battelle describes how the search engine market came to be, common pitfalls which tripped up most other competitors, and ultimately how Google was not only able to define a viable and profitable marketplace, but they were able to it “their way”.
IMO, the most interesting part is that pay per click advertising was not an early goal for Google. They new early on they needed a business model, but did not settle on what everyone else was doing, even though at the time it was very successful for most other competitors. I kind of view the story behind Google as the modern day “Little engine who could”. They had a vision for proving “pure search” results and stuck with it until AdWorks/AdSense" ideas presented themselves. A very risky proposition, but one that seems to working out very nicely for them now.
Some other interesting topics Battelle talked about in the book played out in the last couple weeks as well; China & censorship, News went 1.0, and the governments request for data.
This was a very good read and I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy!