One of the beautiful things about Google is that they encourage experimentation among their staff and are willing to take risks to see if concepts will work in the ‘real world.’ Sometimes, their product offerings come across as if they were ‘throwing shit at the wall to see what sticks’ except they’re internal culture promotes just the kind of progressive thinking that allows partially formed ideas to take root into becoming something bigger.
Google’s bread-and-butter continues to be selling ads against it’s product offerings, Android to YouTube and it’s g-branded mail, chat and docs, and of course search – yet, it isn’t the ads that drive consumers, it’s the ease of adoption that allows for users to embrace the technology. Would Google own a space in many of those as well as mapping, translation, voice pattering, library cataloging or other fields that were not necessarily considered financially viable if they didn’t allow their programmers and biz-dev teams to run crazy from time-to-time?
With all the attempts at success there are going to come “failures,” which, as the business writer Collins would note are learning experiences to be turned into the next viable product, and that’s exactly what Google typically does. Recently, Google released some of it’s buzz-killed product lines… some of which we’ll be sad to see go, others the elation of their nonexistence can’t come soon enough:
Buzz – Meant to act like a bumble-bee in aggregating social thought it had the impact of the killer bee in destroying social sharing. The concept was flawed in it’s dynamic execution to begin with, but what’s worse was the privacy issues made Facebook’s own ill-fated privacy problems seem like a walk through a beehive covered in honey by using the opt-out philosophy in linking it directly to one’s gMail and gChat. Much of the underlying technology has bled into subsequent g+ products without much fanfare which is good, because the initial reaction was anaphalactic shock to the offering despite the attempt at making it a sweet flower.
Picasa – If flickr/tumblr have become Picasso than Google’s offering was the Canal Street variation on the theme as Picasa. Not that it wasn’t inherently functional, but the function might have been too great for the usage. The talk of phase-out has been a long time coming, and, for many it’ll be sad to see it go, but should Google find a way to either aggregate it’s images in a social offering that’s part g+ part search engine efficient it could transcend either. So far, they seem to be migrating toward the g+ end, which is fine if it integrates especially well with Android and leans true multimedia because there’s a market to uniquely manage what the competitors did moved into the fully mobile space.
Apps – Basically an add-on market place for other Google products handling apps separately meant you had to find the necessary features rather than them just being there. It makes sense to close the browsing features component down and roll the usable elements directly into their product lines, however, there’s some room to question closing the laboratory for unique development ideas down to the general public. It lent credence to Docs and Gmail and such by providing services that might not be perfect or even perceived widely necessary which is what made the experience feel special. Many of the features have been rolled into the main products but losing the ‘exclusivity’ idea could hurt in the long run.
Pack – Google’s attempt at streamlining the desktop experience is being discontinued for the idea that the cloud rules. In many ways, this makes sense since the bulk of the G-product is SaaS anyhow and the Android Marketplace probably does the majority of the concept more robustly in an ever mobile marketplace. One can certainly see the foundation laid especially considering Docs and Chrome “OS” and so on but losing that desktop marketplace might feel disjunct for some.
+ – recently the plus sign was added to search results. One of the great things about Google search was the engines ability to take the entire term in order to narrow results to the most immediate version. Two things presented problems: First was the change in the algorithm to disconnect from the input keywords and semantically assume ideas that diminished exact search abilities and Second was the infiltration of social network aggregation of ideas that made finding specific information in a timely manner as it was discovered. The search + was supposed to superimpose the two but the adoption rate was lackluster because of a lack of adoption for any number of reasons. Much like the recent re-invention of the FB interface
Sure, when you look at Google’s product failure rate over the years (lack of adoption, lack of monitization, etc) it is easy to critize, but when comparred to the failure rate of say bank and finance industry’s loan repayment, the music or book industry’s contract recoupment or the newspaper and magazine industry’s ability to leverage advertising Google’s “failures” don’t seem as dire when you look at their spin offs to successful franchise line extentions.
Is Google perfect? No. Are they adaptive? Yes. And that explains best their ability to turn normal wasteful failure into corporate benefits and consumer longevity.