I read this article that gives some small hints about how Google operates. I accept the fact it’s not an entirely clear picture and is one sided. However, it still paints a disturbing picture. By the time I was done reading it, Google appeared to be to a surviving dot-com company.
They made a bunch of bling, and now proceed to waste it on fruitless R&D projects. I’ll be the first to admit that Google Maps is the shiz. They helped solidify the false pretense that everyone and their mom can create fantastic AJAX applications. They showed that the web can still be cool.
Yet, Google has just gloriously failed in their marketing and operation efforts. Evite.com and Bank of America still use MapQuest. Huh? If frikin’ Real can sign mad deals with the MLB, Google with their supposed gargantuan resources should be able to sign deals with those companies, right?
Ask yourself where you hear about Google. Me? Friends via word of mouth, and blogs. I don’t see them on TV, magazines and various other print ads, nor radio. I do see Google Earth being used in the news with their logo on it, even in the movie Crank. They take the same attitude their search engine did. If it’s cool, people will come. BS. There are a ton of things that suck, and people still go there and use them. Lotus Notes vs. Thunderbird or Outlook, Hotmail vs. Yahoo! or Gmail, Real Player vs. Flash Player.
There are a plethora of examples where things that suck are more prevalent than things that rock. They are either first, have better execution, or just better advertised. Google is failing majorly on the last two. Everyone will admit that despite a couple browser / OS combinations they missed with Google Maps, it was definitely very well executed, technically. It wasn’t the first; MapQuest was (or maybe someone more net savvy than me can name the “true” first). Google Maps spread via word of mouth. Huh? Dude, yes, that is extremely effective, but so too is an all encompassing advertising initiative combining various types of media targeted at various demographics.
There are many of their products that do this… or rather, DON’T do any advertising which I think is a shame. Non-Google evangelists seem to rise from the blog sphere as weeds instead of being a lovingly planted seed like other companies do.
Look at Laszlo, for example. For all the supposed thousands of developers, I’ve never seen ONE blog post about how great Laszlo is. People have reported it exists, yes, but they haven’t reported on, from a developer’s perspective, what was great and why. The only blog post I ever saw was from a CEO reporting on that they chose Laszlo to create Pandora.com, the music genome project. He is not a developer. Granted, most of my feeds come from MXNA, but if they are not there, why the hell not!?
I’ve even heard reports of companies moving from Laszlo to Flex 2, not because of price, but because of confidence. If they spread positive karma via tech evangelists, they wouldn’t have this problem.
With Google, it’s even worse because that’s all they got.
Even more disturbing is the article’s claim of no profitable endeavors. What are their metrics? Do they include AdSense clicks in GMail? That seems like added value to an existing successful endeavor to me, and thus implies GMail had a positive contribution to that revenue. I’m sure the same can be said for Google Maps, Google Earth, and various other products they have. That very fact alone makes me question the whole bloody article.
Anyway, it still did paint a pretty disturbing picture. Thousands perished in the dot-com era, except Google. Yet, I don’t think that was entirely from pure hard work and smarts; it was a lot of luck of AdSense contributing to most of their profit.
:: fast forward 4 hours after dinner ::
So, in talkin to co-workers, we disagree on some points. I definitely don’t know as much as they do on Google’s financials’. Bottom line, Bob feels Google focuses more on the user experience vs. being an annoying, ad billboard or a product with a set of tolls like something Microsoft or Yahoo would create. Pat feels they think more for the long term. Collectively, they definitely think they are doing fine.
Me? If everyone else failed in the dot-com era, but I succeeded, it’d be really hard for me to take anything anyone said that was critical about my business seriously. The article, to me, paints Google as a dot-com company; they have the same frivolous spending, the same lack of accountability in the case of the one girl losing the company millions and not getting fired. Yet, they were successful; doesn’t that grant them a license of immunity to dot-com era mistakes? I say no. If you have $900 mil a year you gross, that doesn’t mean you should pour the majority into R&D via an army of high IQ’s. Smart geeks do not a good company make.
Then again, it’s one article, short, and doesn’t really paint the whole picture. In the end, Google isn’t saying jack. I don’t mind companies being secretive, but like the article states, no clear vision clearly communicated to both customers and shareholders, is just jacked.
At this point, if I ever had even the inkling of a chance to work for Google, I couldn’t code. Oh hell no, not at this point. I’d immediately fire whatever crackhead is in charge of their marketing efforts, whip my katana tongue out to cut through the red tape, and make things happen. Geeks may think they are cool, but we need real consumers on board.