Kottke has a great point about the stupidity of trying to cast promising start-ups as The Next Google, The Next Microsoft, or The Next Whatever.
The true giants, like IBM, Microsoft, and Google, come to life so rarely that the chances of random company X being one of them is slim to the point that we might as well try to guess who’s going to be struck by lightning tomorrow or win the lottery.
But even more importantly, the real nexts are never repeats of the last next. That’s what makes them nexts! Thus the comparison is irrelevant.
Nobody is likely going to be the next Microsoft in much of anything that makes Microsoft the company it is: the Windows/Office power-punch. Google has been billed as such many times, but its entire being has nothing to do with the defining characteristics of Microsoft.
Defining nexts seem to be less about the companies and their character than about lazy writers starved for imagination to come up with something better than a tired cliche.