Google (GOOG): Web 1.0 Dies Without A Replacement

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Google’s (GOOG) obscene five years of hyper-growth may be coming to an end. So far, the evidence of that in only anecdotal. Here and there advertisers are saying that the search engine does not get them the kind of results they are used to. Maybe it is the recession.

To further disturb those who worry about Google earnings, the internet company said it would be cutting contract workers. The could be a lot of people. Google has about 10,000 freelancers. According to The Wall Street Journal, Google Inc. said Monday that it is "significantly" reducing the number of contract workers it uses, but the Internet search and advertising company said it has no plans at this time to lay off employees.

Of course, the internet is not dead. But, it becomes more wounded every day. Search is supposed to be the engine which drives online revenue growth forward. Traditional display advertising is not doing as well as it used to. That leaves Google. If its earnings for the current quarter are poor, the league of one will have been disbanded.

From the leading edge of the internet industry looking forward, there is really nothing to replace Google as a successful business. The next wave of online innovation, which carries the hideous misnomer Web 2.0, has been a deep disappointment. Its champions are video-sharing site YouTube and online communities MySpace and Facebook. No one has come up with a way to bring in much revenue to any of these. Since there is a lot riding on making them into viable businesses, it is probable that there will never be a key to the lock on that cash box.

If Google’s extraordinary run is ending, it will not leave any progeny to take its place. Internet advertising can join TV, radio, and print as just another way to sell detergent and cereal.

Douglas A. McIntyre