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fredag 2 december 2011

Is Google turning into Microsoft?

Steve Jobs said that Google is turning into Microsoft. He suggested Larry Page to focus on few products and making them really good, instead of letting all of the other products and projects drag them down.

Interesting article about the parallels between Google and Microsoft, do you agree on some of these?

3 kommentarer:

  1. This year's blog is pretty active! But discussions don't seem to pick up any more than they did last year... Well, if I weren't so busy-lazy, I'd comment more; but I'll make an effort, for once, since the subject touches me directly and I'd like to know how others see "us". :) (And also, Thanks G., It's Friday, and I'm bored... but I'm a bit doubtful whether this qualifies under "social media" for the course, oh well, I'm not following the course anymore!)

    Having interned at both companies(*), I must say the comparison doesn't surprise me, but at the same time, I wouldn't say it tells all the truth. It depends on what angle you look at Google from. They are very different companies, in terms of style and atmosphere. From a purely strategic standpoint, though, I think it is fair to say that we've got tons of products, some of which are more or less used, and more or less appreciated. But I think it's a side effect of growing fast and being a large company. At some point, when you've extracted all you can (or nearly all you can) from your main activity, if you want to grow further, you need to diversify, and with diversification come... "failures". Not only downright failures, but all shades of grey between the immediately successful and the already forgotten. You try, and try, and try, until you succeed or you die; the risk that comes with trying new things is always high, whether you're a giant or the most obscure of startups, the stakes will always be high, for you, because if you have more money, more reputation, it will also mean that failure will cost you more, in terms of image and in terms of finances.

    Apple itself has failed a lot in the past, and I don't think it's because it didn't stick to the right motto. The way I see it, Apple was selling computers to a niche market before discovering the potential of embedded devices (phones, "pads", etc.) and the related ecosystem they could build around it, which in turn helped their initial line of products grow stronger. This means it wasn't ever at any saturating peak when it started meeting widespread success. The fact it was already an established company at that point was just a coincidence; it could have been Jobs' Awesome Startup and the stuff could have been called jPod, jPhone and jPad, for that matter. (I'm, of course, over-simplifying, since it requires a bit more money to invest into hardware, like the iPhone, so an actual startup might not do the trick.) With the market still growing, and connex veins (e.g. the iPhone to iPad transition) still flowing, it is reasonable to rely on a few products, none of which is at saturating potential yet. The real question is what will happen once the limit is reached; and it will, once either everybody who can afford and wants an iSomething has got one (and there's a limit to how many iThings you can shove into your pockets, on your kid's night table, above your kitchen oven, etc.), or the trend has worn off. A company can choose to stagnate and wait for a good, targeted, strategic new product that will hopefully propulse them into the riches once again (which is seemingly what the article purports was advised to Google's direction), or they can diversify and continue to grow, although at a potentially diminished rate, and their image might suffer.

    There is no silver bullet. Apple might present itself as one that has waited for its hour and triumphed. But always remember, in some other place, at some other time, once kings like Yahoo! have waited and died.

    Oh well, of course, I could be wrong! Just a few thoughts... So, what is your opinion, then? You posted the link but didn't really comment, either. :)

    (*) Disclaimer: I'm currently employed by Google, but all opinions expressed are my own, obviously; and rest assured, I won't shamelessly advertise the naturally awesome products that we're working on. ;)

  2. Nice to hear from you, Nhat! That was unexpected, but now that I think about it, probably quite a few of last year's students still subscribe to the blog even though they can not post (but only comment) any more.

    I think it is interesting that Google can launch a "combination social network and blog that was tied into Gmail" (Buzz) in early 2010 and kill it 1.5 years later. The pace is fast both for launching and killing services - time runs fast on the Internet.

    I also learned that Google unfortunately killed "PowerMeter" this summer (

  3. Definitely cool to get an answer! I didn't comment because I found the article provoking and wanted to see others opinions, I myself am a big Google-fan, and every new service or product that they release I try to investigate as much as possible. I bought the first Galaxy S and the first Galaxy Tab, and was also an early adopter of the first generations of Android-smartphones.
    I have indeed tried using Apple products, and at our home we have an iMac, macbook(s), iPad, iPhone(s), but we also have the Nexus One as well as Chromebook (it took a while to get one, we got in on a business trip to London and it took quite some research to find a retailer who had it in stock.) Basically we are tech-nerds and love trying everything out.

    But one thing Google is really good at is basing their products on the Internet (& cloud obviously) - something that Apple now is trying to catch up on, but Apple is still keeping everything restricted to their own products while Google allows for cross-platform usage. My daily school and work life would not work without the Google services, and the only reason I am using Windows on my work computer is because our system at work doesn't work perfectly on Ubuntu unfortunately (yet!).

    I just have the consumer point-of-view, however, and that's why it's very interesting to hear thoughts from everyone who works at Google.
    And when it comes to the future, I do hope that Google will gain more consumers through embracing UX just a bit more, but for me it's not an issue since I'm more into function than design.

    I for one, love that Google takes risks, and realizes what services people need, and when it doesn't work. I don't find that Google+ for example was just a way to try and build a platform around a social media (trying to pull a Zuckerberg)- I thought it was great that they finally took that step, and see a lot more uses with Google+ than Facebook and Twitter combined. And once again, having it all in one place may be a way of trying to get people to use them as a platform, which only makes all the services more and more seem-less, but I still get the impression that they launch something that might or might not work, and will indeed cut it if it doesn't. Same cannot be said about Microsoft... I mean really, IE? The browser used by most people today..