Google has been an astonishing success. The company is doubling revenues every year, and tripling net profits. Annual turnover was only $86 million (£45m) in 2001, but by 2005 had reached $6.1 billion. Profits grew from $7m in 2001 to $1.5bn in 2005, more than Apple ($1.3bn).
Google has also made dramatic changes to the technology landscape, announcing products at a spectacular rate. It is being seen as a threat not just to Yahoo and Microsoft but potentially to Amazon, eBay, Craigslist et al.
"We began as a technology company and have evolved into a software, technology, Internet, advertising and media company all rolled into one," says Google in its latest 10-K filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
It also admits: "Our business depends on a strong brand, and if we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our ability to expand our base of users, advertisers and Google Network members will be impaired and our business and operating results will be harmed."
It's a brand that has been dented by entry into the Chinese market and, because it is now big and extremely rich, rather than a plucky outsider, people are less likely to cut it some slack.
Venture capitalist and blogger Paul Kedrofsky has been critical of Google's "throw-it-at-the-wall approach" to product launches, but the flood continues. Last week, during its annual Press Day in California, it announced another four: Co-op, Trends, Desktop 4 and Notebook.
Google Co-op is a co-operative search and tagging system, which is hard to follow, but has been described as "Google Base for web pages". Google Trends draws graphs of search queries, and you can compare up to five terms at once. Desktop 4 is a new version of the Windows software with what looks like a clone of Yahoo's Konfabulator widgets. Google describes Notebook, which shipped this week, as "a simple way for users to save and organise their thoughts when conducting research online". It sounds like Onfolio, bought by Microsoft in March.
It's an oddball collection, which results partly from the way Google uses staff time. About 70% is supposed to be devoted to core search products. However, 20% can be given to peripheral programs, such as Blogger, and 10% to more personal projects, such as Google Talk.
According to Elise Ackerman of the San Jose-based Mercury News, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt conceded that "the freedom of Google engineers to pursue such quixotic products had caused the company's focus to slip a bit".
I'm not the only user who wishes Google would fix shortcomings in its core business products instead of buying in or launching unrelated and often poorly integrated ancillaries.
But Google is doing the right thing, if it is operating by the standard Silicon Valley approaches that Geoffrey Moore described in his business books. Technologies must cross a chasm between the early adopters and the mainstream. Once they do, sales explode, and Google's financial numbers are evidence of that.
The imperative, says Moore, is to grab customers, because you can make them yours for decades. Rule one is "Just ship".
Received wisdom says there's no lock-in on the web, with rival search engines just a click away. But if you develop a Google search habit, and Google has your email and address book, calendar, news feeds, bookmarks (in Notebook), back-up files (in Gdrive, soon) and other data (in Base), and if it handles your voice calls, organises your photos and so on, then you're going to find it increasingly tedious to switch. That's the idea.
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