Is Google the new Microsoft? A bloated company that throws vaporware and underdeveloped products at every segment having 15 minutes of fame? Do androids dream of electric Apples?
What's going on with Google lately? Every time I turn on the news, they're announcing some new product that copies another in a hot market segment, but it's either coming out "soon" or is underwhelming when compared to its competitors. The latest is the new Chrome Web Store, an Apple App Store competitor for the web and Android OS systems. This of course, following an announcement that they would be making an AppleTV equivalent having the very original name, GoogleTV (not that AppleTV was all that clever to begin with). Now, I know Google's founders and executive team worship Steve Jobs, but come on, at least try to be less obvious and come out with something solid. Soon it will be the Android driven gPad as well…oops, already announced. Where's that BladeRunner when you need him?
Google seems lost in Apple's "Kool-aid," though to their credit, so is the world. Apple has made the smartphone segment hot and sexy, has reenergized and redefined the tablet segment and forced everyone to race to catch up. So Google wants to be Apple…oops, it wants to be Facebook…oops, it wants to be Microsoft…oops…oops…oops. There's another huge company that seems just as lost, one which though very successful in their original segment, seems to want to be everything and cannot seem to focus long enough to actually break from it. You'd think Google would find a different inspiration. Their intent may have been Steve Jobs, but unfortunately their delivery ended up being a Steve of a very different ilk, of a certain je ne se quoi quality that both scares and fascinates with its peculiar, almost multiple personality disorder like, all-over-the-placeness: Steve Ballmer of Microsoft.
How could a company get so lost? How could it change into this creature? Google's original search product not only offered a better search algorithm, but it was a simple, fast, uncluttered, superior product. It was that which helped it to dominate web search and basically annihilate heavy hitters of search such as Yahoo. It made search advertising unobtrusive and useful for both advertisers and users, helping them rise to the top of the money heap. Their corporate culture allowed employees to dabble in interesting side projects, some more useful than others, and though some of these have not necessarily been original, many were interesting takes on those existing paradigms and have become very popular and useful. That is the Google we knew and loved, the one who declared they would do no evil, but this new Google smells of that different animal we all know too well.
It smells like Microsoft, often vilified and even more often deservedly so. They are the ones who see someone develop something cool and are quickly promising their new vaporware product that will ship sometime by the end of the year and does the same thing, and if it does eventually materialize it ends up a ridiculously inferior product. In the past this has helped kill many great products, but in the age of the focused Apple, no longer works. No matter how much money they've thrown at these things, they just can't win with this strategy. Xbox, Zune, WindowsMobile, TabletPCs, Xbox being the only relatively successful one (a well executed product despite the historical hardware quality issues which seem to have finally been resolved), though certainly thrashed by Nintendo's Wii and losing ground to Sony's PS3. Sony has also explored this route and lost. This is why Sony is trying to refocus itself and its many divisions in order to survive and compete in market segments they once innovated and dominated over. So why is Google following the lost boat?
Apple wasn't first to the mp3 player market. Apple wasn't first to the smartphone market. Apple wasn't first to the tablet market. So how have they risen to so quickly dominate these markets? (Though RIM still dominates the Smartphone category, it's the iPhone that everyone continues to talk and speculate about, and it's the iPhone whose sales continue to carve out market share from competitors). This was all done with "inferior" products. The iPod didn't have a radio and for years didn't do video. None of the products accept Adobe Flash. The iPad doesn't have the ports of a computer or the software or the file system or this or that, yet customer satisfaction is 91% according to ChangeWave surveys and is selling like hot cakes with greater demand than at launch. Focused products seem to work better than wannabe everything products. Apple made them both elegant and useful. Sure, power users may want more i/o options or system access, but most people don't care about that. The freedom to download porn is not enough of an incentive for the majority of people. They want a product that just works out of the box without issue, easily and intuitively.
Google is a search company that wants to be a software company, a hardware company, a phone company, an energy company, an internet provider, a retailer, a media distribution company, a social networking company, etc. Branching out is not a bad idea, but focusing efforts in getting a product out there that just works, that does what it claims to do, that does what it does do well, and without much hassle for the consumer who spent his hard earned money on it, would go a long way into making it more of a want to be company than a wannabe company, into more of an Apple of our eye and less of a Microsore. Things like forcing users into Buzz and into sharing without warning is not the way to beat Facebook (even though Facebook is looking more and more like Buzz in that regard recently), but the way to anger users and steer them away. Things like that are just evil (and stupid). So, Don't be Evil Google. Don't be Googlesoft. Just be Google.
Just venting (and hoping Google, who owns Blogger, won't censor this ;) hehe)…