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Tepid Results from Google's New Product Process

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the still-a-fan-of-their-search-thingie dept.

237

bart_scriv writes "BusinessWeek digs into Google's new products, first interviewing Marissa Mayer on the process behind the recent flurry of product launches; the essential process: 'try a bunch of new ideas, refine them and see what survives'. How successful is the process? Despite lots of fanfare, a close look at the products reveals that Google still hasn't produced a huge winner: 'An analysis of some two dozen new ventures launched over the past four years shows that Google has yet to establish a single market leader outside its core search business, where it continues to chew up Microsoft and Yahoo.'"

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at least it seems more fair (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635605)

Google is an amazing search-engine success, spearheading some of the greatest technology, especially internet, innovation and competition in the last twenty years. That's as it should be. And Google has pulled off so far what noone else has, a head start, salvo across Microsoft's bow from which Microsoft still has not recovered.

Each additional degree of Microsoft's ship's list translates into that much more level of a playing field. Google more than any other single company has been the greatest contributor to that.

And, as it should be on a more level field, Google isn't going to get a free pass on their other work. That's great! Google has had some false starts with their other products. That's great! Google may even fail completely with some of their work. That's great!

At least Google (and now others) are all on point together, sweating out the competition, working on that next great internet killer app, and they're all having to compete publicly for a change.

I'll take three-year Betas any day over "announced" but yet un-priced future products from other large software companies. I'll try less-than-great first efforts any day over products tied to my architecture, leaving me no choices.

Google's going to fail with some of their efforts, but they've changed the landscape of the internet, and internet applications, software competition, and user choices. Hopefully, forever.

(A worrisome problem: the stockholders' pressure on these companies keeps pushing on these companies to produce and show profit now. I applaud Microsoft, in one example, in their snubbing of shareholders by announcing huge investments in R&D, rather than upping their dividends. In the long run, companies that stay focused will be the winners, for themselves, for the consumers, and for the shareholders (though, I still hold Microsoft in high suspicion for their motivation for pouring huge resources into R&D, aka... working on cutting off someone else's air supply.))

Mod parent up (1, Insightful)

Kazzahdrane (882423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635627)

If I had mod points you'd get +1 Insightful from me. There's too much "M$ sux0rz" and "Google are the one true God" from some people here, nice to see a thoughtful post of an opinion for a change.

Re:Mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15635903)

Except your reading comprehension sux. Cause that's what he said. something about three year betas over delayed overpriced architecture dependent software.

Man, dood, you can't read. Now everyone knows.

Sux.

Would you still mod him up now?

Re:Mod parent up (1)

Kazzahdrane (882423) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636097)

Actually I was implying that his post was well thought-out and communicated, instead of the usual quick drivel that pops up in articles about Google.

Of course, you can't spell "dude" or "sucks" correctly, so I would argue that it is in fact you who has terrible language skills.

Re:at least it seems more fair (2, Insightful)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635710)

Google's going to fail with some of their efforts, but they've changed the landscape of the internet, and internet applications, software competition, and user choices. Hopefully, forever.


Google is collapsing under their own weight. I went through their hiring process looking to take on a management role, it was slow and focused on the wrong things. By th etime they would have come to a conclusion my search would have been over. And most of the things that would have been a big draw there 4 years ago are gone, they have IPO'd and their stock is massively overpriced, whatever options I might get awarded will likely be high and dry by the time I can exercise them, and their internal management does not seem to have handled the growth well, which is hardly surprising given the tech focus of their backgrounds.

Yeah, I've seen the raves about their hiring process, spent a few hours on the in B-school. It reminded me of all the other ground breaking cases we used that when we asked follow up questions, "Great, what happened 3 years later" you discover it all collapsed 6 months later. [Which is actually the beauty of an EMBA program, you are amongst all the other business leaders with the experience to see through the fluff and ask the important questions, they don't worry about the teacher not giving them an A because they already have an impressive resume and are actually looking to learn something]

Re:at least it seems more fair (5, Funny)

datdjrobp (753238) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635794)

So all you're really saying is you applied there too late?

Re:at least it seems more fair (4, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635974)

And my experience was the opposite. Though I can't really give any details, as I got the job and have now signed an pretty far-reaching NDA, the recruitment process for Google Engineering was extremely rapid despite consisting of over 7 hours of interviews!

The questions were very thorough, really that's the deepest and widest technical interview I've ever done, though I was slightly surprised at the lack of interest in asking traditional personal-type interview questions. Even so I was generally impressed at how slick the thing was. They hire constantly and it shows - the longest I had to wait for feedback before going onto the next stage was about a week. Very far from "collapsing under their own weight".

Maybe their executive/management and technical recruitment are wildly different in terms of quality, it's certainly possible. But anyway, consider your anecdote matched.

Re:at least it seems more fair (1, Flamebait)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636072)

They are adding on thousands of employees every quarter. For instance, in one quarter, they went from 5500 employees to over 6700. Perhaps the problem wasn't with Google, but with you? Maybe the hiring person just didn't have the heart to call you and tell you that you weren't qualified and up to snuff?

Re:at least it seems more fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15636290)

When Google interviews a good candidate that they are interested in, the candidate knows within a few days- usually with an offer that is hard to refuse.

Google dragged their feet with you, which makes me conclude that they thought that you sucked butt.

Google Search Success? (2, Insightful)

webword (82711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635786)

I think that people are too focused on Google being a search company. You have to follow the money. Google is an advertising company, not a search company.

Re:Google Search Success? (3, Insightful)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635805)

No, they're a data mining company which has happened to find that searches are the best place to put carefully targeted ads.

Re:at least it seems more fair (4, Interesting)

tambo (310170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635830)

At least Google (and now others) are all on point together, sweating out the competition, working on that next great internet killer app, and they're all having to compete publicly for a change.

I agree that this is good, but if they just keep producing killer apps in the same fashion - producing Google SQL to compete with MS Access, Google Present! to compete with PowerPoint, etc. - then they might see just the same tepid response that they're receiving now.

Hypothetical: What if Google produces an analog for every single application that you use today, only it's free and on the web? Prediction: You still wouldn't use them, or would only use them occasionally.

Well, what's the problem, then? The problem is that web apps - Google's as much as anyone else's - don't offer the unified experience of a locally-installed software base.

Google Earth is a silo: you visit that site, and you do your satellite-spy thing, and then you leave.

Google Picasa is a silo: you visit the site, and you edit your photos, and then you leave.

Gmail is a silo: you visit the site, and you check and write email, and then you leave.

The model here is that every time you want to do something, you have to load up a browser, visit the site, and begin fresh work on some data. Data exchange between applications is limited at best: you might be able to extract some data (hoping it's in the right format) and upload it to another silo - but if not, you're strictly limited to copying and pasting some raw text.

Contrast this with your experiences working on a local software base. Everything is immediately available within a few clicks away from the Start Button, or the Mighty Apple, or your *n?x right-click menu - even if you don't have an internet connection. You have file associations; you have drag-and-drop; you have object linking; you have interoperability of office applications. And you have filesystem organization - if a project involves some email, some Word files, and a few spreadsheets, you can keep them all in the same folder.

You get none of this with the current generation of web apps.

Now if Google's gaggle of research efforts are some of the elements of a future GoogleOS, that's very promising. But they consistently (publicly) deny that that's their goal. And regardless of where Google might go tomorrow, it doesn't much impact what it is today: a company with many fledgling projects... but too little cohesion. Meanwhile, Microsoft is going more in this direction, with WinFS and Avalon and such. Its efforts are kind of sucky because it's not really motivated by competition, but at least its aim is correct.

I hope Google succeeds - if nothing else, Bob knows that the desktop software market has been stagnant since, oh, 1995 or so. We need some competition and fresh blood. But that's not a trend that one can extrapolate from its current model.

- David Stein

Re:at least it seems more fair (3, Insightful)

cygnusx (193092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636234)

> You get none of this with the current generation of web apps.

You're right about the current generation, but the writing is on the wall...

Imagine a browser that ships with database (these days modern processors can run MySQL or SQL Server Desktop Edition pretty easily) and has top-notch WebDAV support.

Now imagine that unlike Firefox's relatively sucky file manager capabilities (well, it does give you a list of files if you type file:///), this browser's file manager look more like Nautilus and can do local files + WebDAV seamlessly.

Now imagine you have a rich control toolkit, like the WHAT-WG is cooking up, and that applications using these rich controls can be cached locally and take advantage of the local relational data store (the built-in database) to store data when the user is offline.

Just for kicks, add in a scheduler that can reliably move large files across localstoragewebstore.

By now, you have enough 'richness' in this 'browser' that it can with some justification call itself a GUI shell. Throw in an IM and email client and a large percentage of PC (including Mac) users wouldn't need much else.

As for 'silos', well-- implementing a clipboard on the web is simple using XML, as Ray Ozzie demonstrated recently. And if a rich browser environment ever caught on, I'd expect websites will soon start plugging into each other's UI seamlessly using a 'parts' approach.

Prediction: Google will do this (probably by working with the Mozilla Foundation). Because (a) it makes sense for them to do it (their advertising model works wonderfully here) and (b) if they don't, Microsoft will. Why would Microsoft do this? Because it'll improve the PC experience and make apps more web-like (install-on-demand, auto-upgradeable, etc) and because there's a real chance they can get annuity from customers (which improves stock price) instead of one-time sales. Of course, Microsoft does online ad sales now, so they'll probably offer a free ad-supported version as well.

Silo? (2, Informative)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636297)

>Gmail is a silo: you visit the site, and you check and write email, and then you
>leave.

Huh? Like when there's an address in the email, and Google offers to map it for me? Like when there's a time in the email, and Google offers to put it on my calendar?

I have a GMail tab open at all times.

Re:Silo? (1)

tambo (310170) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636381)

Huh? Like when there's an address in the email, and Google offers to map it for me?

I've been using Gmail for about two years, and I've never seen this feature. In fact, I'm looking at an email right now that clearly contains an address, and I see no link of any kind.

Like when there's a time in the email, and Google offers to put it on my calendar?

:shrug: Email and calendar appointments are routinely stored together, so that's not exactly a huge leap of innovation.

- David Stein

Re:at least it seems more fair (5, Insightful)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636035)

I completely agree. You always see the trolls say that Google should "focus on search", as though by throwing more people at search is going help things. Look how well that worked for Windows. MS got bigger, releases got slower. The fact is, you can onlty have so many people doing search.

Any good businesman will tell you that failure is 95% of business. Most new buisinesses fail, most new products are not a roaring success. All Google needs is for one or two of its two dozen ventures to establish even a niche market (*cough* gmail *cough*) and it will make money hand over fist. Remember, Google is still the underdog in all of these new ventures, so almost any gains are a positive thing.

Re:at least it seems more fair (2, Interesting)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636058)

A worrisome problem: the stockholders' pressure on these companies keeps pushing on these companies to produce and show profit now. I applaud Microsoft, in one example, in their snubbing of shareholders by announcing huge investments in R&D, rather than upping their dividends. In the long run, companies that stay focused will be the winners, for themselves, for the consumers, and for the shareholders.


This is a fundamental flaw in market economies, not in shareholders. Shareholders have a limited lifespan and depend on their investments in the market for their retirement and in many cases income before retirement. If a stock A performs better than stock B now, the investor will go there, because real bankable gains outweigh theoretical gains a) because theoretical gains fall in the future, perhaps too late to make a difference for an investor's livable income and b) real gains are *real*, i.e. in a volatile marketplace like public investing where a company's fortune can shift overnight, much less over a decade or two, it's prudent to take the dollar you can count on now over a dime now and a theoretical two dollars in the future. Companies that try to "stay focused in the long run" without producing real net gains now (whether through dividends or increase) that are larger than those produced by their competitors will lose their investors to those competitors and thus lose their ability to focus in the long run and their ability to create new focuses after that.

This also carries over to funds at the meta level, i.e. funds must select stocks that perform now because if they don't they will be measurably outperformed by other funds now, and consumers will quickly go to the funds that perform best, often not over 100 years or even 50 years, but over 5 years or 10 years, which is really short-term in terms of gains from the business vs. R&D perspective.

Here's the problem with that (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636153)

The problem with being a leader in the "internet search" market is that there's no such market, actually. Nobody pays to search the Internet. Much as you probably like Google, if they started requiring a paid-for account to use their search engine, you'd probably just say "fuck you very much" and go use Yahoo instead. Charging sites to be listed on your search engine would probably go even worse, and not leave you with much of a search engine if most sites refuse to be indexed.

There is no _money_ in being the leading internet search company, and there is no money in just changing the landscape and enabling people just for the hell of it. If that's all that Google were about, trust me, MS would have a hearty laugh and leave them to it.

Google makes its money out of serving ads. _That_ is its real market. The search engine is partially just a way to get people to see those ads, and partially about getting brand recognition.

And a lot of the other ventures actually follow the same pattern: getting even more people and page hits for those ads they serve. E.g., Gmail isn't there just because Google is kind and wants to donate large email accounts to the people, it's there because someone figured out, "wait, wait... people receive all these billions of emails each day... what if we could show an ad for each of those emails?" Insert cash register sounds. E.g., they come up with all these ideas for holding your data for you, not because they have too much HDD space, not because they're Big Brother and want your secrets, but because it sounds like a free ticket to show you ads each time you want to do anything with your own data.

Now I'm not saying that that's bad. It isn't. That's how capitalism works, and it certainly worked well so far. But just putting it in perspective. And saying why it's actually _not_ ok to be just a search engine: because that's not where the money is.

And conversely, for MS it's the exact same thing. They don't just want Google's internet search market, because there is no such market. What they want is you coming to MSN instead and seing _their_ ads.

Re:Here's the problem with that (2, Interesting)

birge (866103) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636257)

What are you saying? You might as well say "there's NO market for broadcast television." Of course there is a market for search. It's just that search is paid for by ads.

You're just making a petty semantic argument. When people say market, they just mean an area of competition. Just because the money comes in through ads (in common with other markets) is absolutely meaningless. Focusing on the mechanics of compensation over the facets of competition makes no sense. The bottom line is people need a search engine, and they either choose Google or Yahoo or MSN. That's a market.

Mail (2, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635615)

Everyone I know or meet in a business context these days has two addresses: work and gmail. Sometimes they have another (like my home servers), but everyone has those two.

I haven't heard anyone use a Yahoo, MSN or Hotmail address in months.

Not a leader?! Please.

Re:Mail (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15635649)

I use Yahoo - nice to meet you!

gmail requires the Google cookie and i'm not having any of that...

Re:Mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15636235)

Google uses an annoying cookie and is pretty upfront about and gives you the right to decline using google's services.

Yahoo uses "web beacons" http://privacy.yahoo.com/privacy/us/beacons/detail s.html/ [yahoo.com] to track your web surfing and has since the late 90s and did not make any aware of this fact until watchdogs forced them to admit they were using web bugs. In addition, once Yahoo owned up to web beacons and allowed you to opt out, Yahoo continued to reset a user's web beacon preferences for years. AFAIK they still reset these preferences but I would not know because I refuse to use Yahoo's products if I don't have to.

Re:Mail (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15635702)

And so definitely the fact that "Everyone I [you] know" means they're a leader?

re: email addresses (4, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635712)

The thing with Yahoo email is, they partnered up with other big players, so they host more email than you might at first realize.

EG. I've been a Southwestern Bell DSL Internet customer for years. At one point, SBC partnered up with Yahoo, and migrated email over to Yahoo's servers. I still got to keep my "@swbell.net" address, however. It just runs through Yahoo POP and SMTP servers instead of SBC's own mail server.

Many other users of SBC/AT&T DSL services are doing similar things with addresses ending in "@sbcglobal.net".

Re:Mail (1)

ooh456 (122890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635720)

Word. I have the same experience. I am an IT consultant and using any web based email besides gmail seems a little backward (at least that is my impression). Whenever I revisit my hotmail and yahoo addresses to see if anyone has sent me anything important I am lost in a sea of spam.

I have received 2 pieces of spam from gmail in the past couple of years. And Google really seems to understand usability. People should just copy them. Stuff like Google Search, Gmail, and others make me want to try some other of their services.

Re:Mail (1)

hurting now (967633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635899)

But on top of that, GMAIL is also in their beta for hosted email services. I am using that right now for my mail services instead of hosting it from my home. Damn fine program. Just like gmail, but my own domain, and googles service is free (as of right now) to use their hosted service. I wouldn't ever switch to any other hosting service. Gmail is the prime-choice for other professionals' alternate non-work email whom Im good friends with.

Re:Mail (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635860)

I have a gmail account, but I use my Yahoo email account exclusively. Yahoo has the best web mail interface I have ever used. It's better even than some desktop email apps that I've seen. And their spam filtering is excellent.

Re:Mail (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636099)

I sure hope you're talking about Yahoo! Mail Beta (which is pretty slick in my opinion), because if you think their old interface is the best ever, you're off your rocker :-P

(Just kidding of course....maybe)

Invitation only (0, Redundant)

mangu (126918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635875)

The reason why I don't use Gmail is because I was never offered an invitation. Same goes for Orkut. I'm not a dog, I won't beg for food. I shouldn't need to say "please, pretty please, let me use Gmail!!!".


Let's get this straight: they are a company, I'm a customer. There are certain well-accepted rules that define who should do the begging. If Google thinks they can become a business leader by catering only to their own definition of who is "133t", they need a big revamping of their marketing department.

Re:Invitation only (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635986)

You haven't needed an invite for some time now. I believe you still need to have a cell phone that accepts text messages, but you haven't needed an invite for like a year. I signed up for my gmail; I never received an invite.

Re:Invitation only (1)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636002)

The 'invitation' system is just a way to know which GMail address are linked to who. Every GMail user has way more invites than they can possibly give out, it's not like its a secret club or anything. You get something like 10 invites per week with a maximum of 100. I think I've given out 3 in 6 months. It has nothing to do with being l33t.

Re:Invitation only (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636040)

The invitation concept, done well, is quite neat. Google's core business is data mining. By limiting the number of invitations, they (would have) ensured that people only gave them to their friends. Since (more or less) everyone is seven-or-fewer degrees of connectivity away from anyone else, they would quickly have given everyone who wanted one an invitation. At the same time, however, they would have generated a map of who was friends with everyone. Sadly (for them), their invitation awarding algorithm was no use, and so they ended up with a relatively small number of people handing out invitations to anyone who wanted one (e.g. via /. sigs) giving them no useful data at all.

Re:Invitation only (1)

j_snare (220372) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636077)

Okay, two things bug me about this one.

First, you're complaining about how they haven't asked if you want to get an account. So, what are these guys supposed to do? E-mail every single e-mail address to invite people? I mean, what do you do if you want a Hotmail account, or a Yahoo account? Oh, that's right, you go and sign up. So, in your terms, you say "please, pretty please, let me use Yahoo e-mail!!!"

Secondly, even when you supposedly needed to find someone to send you an invitation, a quick Google search brought up some places that would give you one. Hell, that's how I got in, and I think it still went faster than a signup on one of the other sites, since I didn't have to enter in information about the past 16 generations.

Finally, just for my viewpoint on the invitation system, I actually like it. Since you are/were tied to someone else, if a spammer gets a hold of one and starts using it, Google may be able to track down a whole web of spammers. Or at least, so was my thinking. Maybe that's not true, or it's unreasonable, but oh well.

Re:Mail (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635901)

I agree, but pundits like to point out that GMail's share is still small relatively to other services like Yahoo. What I'd really like to see is the ACTIVE account growth at GMail versus competitors. It does seem that everyone looking for a primary web mail account uses GMail-- but do spammers? Do people signing up for tourney brackets or stock discussions on Yahoo technically get an email account there? I've had my Yahoo email since 1998 and have never used it as a primary account in those 8 years.

People also need to realize that a smash hit service takes TIME and reinvestment to grow.

Re:Mail (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636165)

Everyone I know or meet in a business context these days has two addresses: work and whatever they've been given by their ISP. Sometimes they have another, but everyone has those two.

I haven't heard anyone use a GMail, Yahoo, MSN or Hotmail address in months.

A leader?! Please.

AOL and gmail: a match made in heaven? (2, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636289)

gmail makes you jump through hoops to sign up. AOL makes you jump through hoops to cancel. They could form a partnership. AOL could offer a service to make it easy to sign up for a gmail account. gmail could offer a service to make it easy to cancel your AOL account.

Product release overload (5, Interesting)

IntelliAdmin (941633) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635616)

It has gotten to the point where they release new products so often that I can't even keep track. I think they also spend way too much time on ideas that are aimed to hurt Microsoft (Such as the online spreadsheet idea) - these things are cool, but will anyone really pay for them? I think google executives know that the money train will stop someday soon, since they are selling their shares like crazy.
USB Drive disabler - works remotely [digg.com]

Re:Product release overload (1)

bigmouth_strikes (224629) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635823)

> I think they also spend way too much time on ideas that are aimed to hurt Microsoft (Such as the online spreadsheet idea) - these things are cool, but will anyone really pay for them?

They don't have to make money, they just have to make sure that Microsoft isn't making money. This was the no. 1 reason behind StarOffice from Sun; kill the biggest MS cash-cow of them all - Office. With less profits from that direction, MS have to spend less to compete with Sun in Sun's core market. Same with Google, it's a little investment with a possible huge return.

> I think google executives know that the money train will stop someday soon, since they are selling their shares like crazy.

They're selling their shares because it's unwise to have that much money in a single stock. If you look carefully you'll see that despite selling off stocks, they're vested more (in $$$) rather than less every year compared to the previous year.

Gmail, anyone? (5, Interesting)

turthalion (891782) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635633)

Google still hasn't produced a huge winner...

I would argue that gmail is pretty successful. It's forced Yahoo, Hotmail to offer much larger mailboxes to keep their clients.

Heck, even my local ISP, after 15 years of a 10MB mailbox (with a float to 15MB) suddenly offer 200MB on all 5 email addresses their service lets you use.

In addition, every user of Hotmail or Yahoo that I've brought over to gmail hasn't looked back. They all love it.

I call that a winner.

Re:Gmail, anyone? (3, Interesting)

Troy (3118) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635816)

If I understand the article correctly, it is thinking solely in terms of revenue generated rather than popularity. For instance, Google Maps/Earth is wildly popular and there really aren't too many applications like it, but can you say that those products have made Google a substantial amount of cash? In comparison to their ad business, I don't think so.

From a Wall Street point-of-view, this is troubling. You have a large business in a fast moving market hanging its entire hat on a single technology.

Re:Gmail, anyone? (1)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636098)

Although this makes me wonder why we haven't yet seen GMail appliances. If Google could supply, much like their search appliances, GMail appliances that you plug into your network, tell them the domains they're handling, point your DNS at them, and leave them alone, they could make a fortune.

Sure, this is not easy... but I still think this is the best way for them to make money from GMail, and I think they can do it...

Re:Gmail, anyone? (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636313)

Or you could just have Google host your email domains and not worry about buying a device for your network.

-matthew

Re:Gmail, anyone? (2, Insightful)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636143)

You'd never know, Google inserts ads into both Google Earth and Google Maps. You will see sponsored links while using the products. Google doesn't disclose how much of their ad dollars from their own web properties come from which products (ie. Groups, Web Search, Gmail, Maps, Earth, etc.)

From TFA (1)

mahju (160244) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635831)

From TFA: Gmail, the e-mail service that was lauded at its 2004 launch for offering 500 times as much storage space as some rivals (they quickly closed the gap), today is the system of choice for only about one-quarter the number of people who use MSN and Yahoo e-mail.

I too like gmail, and use it more than my hotmail, yahoo, or other personal accounts. However this has not been a new killer app. Its caused the others to lift their game a bit, but has not been a huge change in the market place.

The thing with Google is that its good at its core product, searching well and targeted ads, but has a large number of products that it also supports now, eg sketch, that aren't killer apps and aren't racking in the cash.

Re:Gmail, anyone? (1)

naio21 (986047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635950)

I agree GMail is a pretty success, but not in the innovation arena (where Google is famous to fight at). It is simply a combination of huge amounts of storage plus some neat AJAX (which is not a brand new technology by the way). In fact I should say GMail is a rather conservative product.

Re:Gmail, anyone? (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636170)

Doesn't matter whether Google introduced hoards of new technology in Gmail or not. The fact of the matter is that Gmail was the first usable webmail, that wasn't crammed so full of ads you only had a little tiny box to read your mail in, that didn't take 10 seconds to open a mail message and that worked the way you would expect an email client to work.

I would rather have a good, well thought out conservative product (Gmail) as opposed to a buggy, ad-cramped bleeding edge product (Yahoo! Mail Beta and Windows Live Mail, the latter being the worst offender).

Re:Gmail, anyone? (1)

iznogud (162711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636031)

I use gmail. I hate Hotmail (I have account on Hotmail, and use it only on sites that asks for my email address for access). But, is gmail a winner? No. Gmail have some stupidities (I can't receive .zip, or some other files in attachment, and I'm tired to explaining to anyone that wants to send to me something that they need to rename files), and, more important, gmail isn't winner if Yahoo or Hotmail can catch up simply by giving more space to their users. Clear winner is service that opponents can't be beat simply by changing configuration or with more hardware.

Re:Gmail, anyone? (1)

smallpaul (65919) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636136)

I would argue that gmail is pretty successful. It's forced Yahoo, Hotmail to offer much larger mailboxes to keep their clients.

From a business point of view it is a failure to introduce an innovation so simple to copy that your competitors catch up quickly. It would be a success if Yahoo and Hotmail were now in free-fall because they couldn't match it.

Re:Gmail, anyone? (1)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636192)

Not only that, but I now use google chat more than AIM, the previous de facto standard. Google isn't making a single big winner, but they're chipping away at every other company with a big online presense. Yahoo and Microsoft with search and mail. AOL with their chat program. Ebay yesterday with their checkout. Google is smart to diversify their products - you can beat one of them but not all of them. They're like a hydra.

Re:Gmail, anyone? (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636239)

And the extension to it, gmail's ability to host email for user owned domains, [google.com] is a great feature specifically in competition to some of the add on options offered by the GoDaddy's and Network Solutions of the world.
Granted, it's presently not widely available or advertised, but for free it blows away what those other providers offer with required contracts and monthly charges.

Process ? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15635640)

Its like the scene in UHF where a blind man trying to solve the Rubriks cube with the help of a seeing guy.

"Is this it ?"
"No!"

"Is this it ?"
"No!" ....

So what? (3, Insightful)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635645)

Do gmail, the calendar, local searching, satelite mapping, their ads and innumerable other good stuff need to be a market leader to be considered a success? With the hit or miss nature of pretty much every other single company in the world, isn't the fact that pretty much everything google puts out doesn't suck a sign that the process works well?

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15635697)

Well, the article is from Business Week, so they probably define success by some crazy measure of market share, or revenue. Putting out good stuff that doesn't ultimately lead to revenue doesn't matter to the shareholders that Google has to answer to now that it is public.

Re:So what? (4, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635755)

In the seventies, there was a huge study in how to create a successful business. One of those areas they found as being important was "Market Leader". The reason, it was easier for the "Market Leader" to achieve "Economies of Scale"( ie. It is cheaper to produce 10,000 units instead of 5,000 units).

Being a market leader was not the only variable in this study, just one of several. However, it appears "a little knowledge is dangerous" applies here. I doubt "Economies of Scale" (and thereforce "Market Leader") is as important to IT compared with manufacturing cars. They took one potential variable and applied it to Google without looking at the big picture of how it all works.

MOD PARENT DOWN (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15636127)

>In the seventies, there was a huge study care to provide a reference? This sounds remarkably like you pulled it out of the air. People have known since before Rockefeller cornered the oil market that being a "market leader" allowed you to set prices above marginal cost to a degree dependent on your market power, which has nothing whatsoever to do with economies of scale. To say that producing a larger slice of the market breakdown, i.e. producing more, allows you to capture more economies of scale is equivalent to saying economies of scale may exist. It's near tautological. You might check yourself next time you choose to go into clueless pedant mode.

Google (2, Insightful)

foo52 (980867) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635663)

Whether or not Google is becoming more or less evil aside, they are growing too big too fast. Any company that tries to expand its market too quickly is in danger of callapsing under its own weight. Innovation is rare in todays society and I applaud it, but Google as a company should look inward and perfect its current product line before expanding into others. I for one would prefer a few great products than too many bad ones to name.

Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (1, Interesting)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635667)

Gmail, the e-mail service that was lauded at its 2004 launch for offering 500 times as much storage space as some rivals (they quickly closed the gap), today is the system of choice for only about one-quarter the number of people who use MSN and Yahoo e-mail.

So in an article about the success of Google products, the only way they gauge the success of Gmail is if someone also maintains an account with a competing service? What about Gmail users who use it exclusively (like me)?

Re:Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (3, Insightful)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635747)

I call FUD! The "statistics" they use are baloney. Google has one-quarter the number of people that MSN and Yahoo do? ...maybe one quarter the addresses, but I disagree on the "people" part -- why, I myself have 4 Yahoo email accounts (and just one gmail account) so if everyone was like me than an equal amount of people use gmail and Yahoo. I realize not everyone is like me (oh, trust me, I definitely realize this), but I still have a hard time accepting their "statistics" that gmail has 1/4 the users of hotmail and yahoo mail. Hotmail and Yahoomail have been around for over 12 years (I think I got my first yahoomail account in 95), gmail has been around for 2 (a lot of that time it was locked up and you could only get in through invites). How many of those hotmail and yahoomail accounts are unused? If these questions were answered and backed up with numbers then maybe I would believe the article... until then, I repeat my original statement: FUD!!!

Re:Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (2, Interesting)

Winterblink (575267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635783)

The whole "by invite only" thing was a joke really, when you consider how easy it was to get an invite. People were giving them out on various message boards, and even here via /. comments at one point. Eventually those new accounts got invites, and suddenly everyone had a Gmail account.

But even assuming the stats were correct, it's silly to assume the measurement of success only includes Gmail users already using other competitors' products. There's plenty of people who use it and don't fall into that category.

Re:Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15636017)

Not sure how you got that impression. It's comparing ANY Gmail users to ANY users of the competitors.

Re:Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636218)

Other thing to consider is that for a long time you needed to get a Hotmail account to use MSN Messenger. They lifted that restriction a few years ago but to this day I have a Hotmail account I never use, simply to sign into MSN Messenger with.

That said a metric ton of non-geeks, especially teenagers, use Hotmail because it's what they know. So I can quite believe that Hotmail still beats the snot out of their competitors through inertia alone. This is especially true as you still need invites for GMail and people whos circle of friends doesn't include a resident geek won't be able to get one (the idea of searching the web to get an invite off a stranger won't occur to a lot of people).

Re:Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (1)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636325)

Well, if the accounts are unused, Hotmail would delete them after 30 days and Yahoo! would delete them after 120, so I fail to see how accounts opened 10 years ago and then abandoned would skew the results at all. Please do explain.

If you want to look at it that way, people have abandoned gmail accounts (including 2 people I myself have invited), yet those accounts remain active on Google's servers for NINE months, as opposed to four and one for Yahoo and MSN respectively. I also have 2 gmail accounts (one for mailing lists and crap like that, the other for personal email), so how do you know how many people are doing the same thing as me? It is very easy to simply invite yourself to Gmail and set up a second account, yet you seem to pretend it is impossible, and that absolutely no Gmail users have more than one account. My friend whom I invited has 2 accounts as well, one for people she knows in person and family, the other for people she talks to online.

Your logic is just as flawed as you claim the article's is.

And really, could everyone please stop with this "FUD!!!!" crap? Do you even know what the term means anymore? How the hell is statistics on the number of users using a product creating fear, uncertainty and doubt about the product for users? If the article said Gmail is unstable, crashed a lot and was slower than Hotmail, that would be "FUD!!!!". Saying Hotmail has more users is basically stating the facts, not spreading "FUD!!!!". "FUD!!!!" has now morphed into a term people use when they don't like what they read.

Re:Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (3, Funny)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635767)

I have a Yahoo account and at least one Hotmail account that were made before my migration to GMail. According to TFA, only 25% of me uses GMail, even though I almost never log in to the other accounts.

Re:Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (2, Informative)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635817)

is the system of choice for only about one-quarter the number of people who use MSN and Yahoo e-mail.

So in an article about the success of Google products, the only way they gauge the success of Gmail is if someone also maintains an account with a competing service? What about Gmail users who use it exclusively (like me)?

I can see how you could read it that way, but I don't think thats the way it is meant. They are trying to say Google only has about 1/4 the total users of MSN or Yahoo. If you have an account with more than one, you'd be counted for each system you have an account with. Now I have no idea if those numbers are for active users or all accounts, but by one measure or the other apparently Google only has 1/4 the users.

Re:Success for Gmail rated on use of others??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15636121)

What about Gmail users who use it exclusively (like me)?

If I decide I want to know your opinions I'll search for them on Google...

Out of many, one (4, Interesting)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635674)

"Google has yet to establish a single market leader outside its core search business, where it continues to chew up Microsoft and Yahoo."


Google does not need that one killer app that will destroy the status quo. I find myself using Google products for quite a few things. They have a knack for taking something that everyone already uses and improving it enough to make the transition worthwhile. The author might deride GMail for not being a new invention, but at the time of its release (and I would argue even now) it offered the most features and free storage. Instead of e-mail papers back and forth, I have been using Writely [writely.com] for months. Again, nothing too groundbreaking, but it just plan works and saves me some aggravation.

My point is that Google provides resources that we all actually use, not some next big thing that will change the paradigm for good.

Re:Out of many, one (1)

Jonboy X (319895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636371)

Am I the only one here who had never heard of Writely until today?

I guess this proves the point that TFA makes about Google not advertising its products very well.

Google Business Strategy (3, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635683)

1. Buy struggling company.
2. Rebrand their product.
3. Make free version and "professional" version.
4. Add web stuff, anything to tie it to Google servers, typically search or collaboration features.
5. Put it into "Beta".
6. ???
7. Profit!

not so fast (1)

st_judas (953710) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635686)

Does Google need these side-projects to be profitable for them to be considered a success? I would posit that these are just things added to keep up the Google mystique and the perception of their innovation and coolness. Further, even if these projects are not profitable in and of themselves, is it not a success if they have managed to distract Microsoft, Yahoo, et al from their own core business? The more they pressure with Gmail the more everyone else has to scramble to keep up.

Re:not so fast (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635760)

Companies (and their stockholders) love multiple sources of income. The search/adwords train may not roll forever. A great new upstart can take it away in a second of internet time. To be a more stable company Google needs income from other products.

Re:not so fast (0, Flamebait)

nsillik (791687) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635971)

A great new upstart can take it away in a second of internet time.

Actually, Internet Time is measured in .beats [wikipedia.org]

Quantity Over Quality (3, Insightful)

lbmouse (473316) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635689)

"...Google has yet to establish a single market leader outside its core search business, where it continues to chew up Microsoft and Yahoo."

Is it me or has anyone else noticed the decline in quality search results from Google? Maybe this flurry of product launches continues to chew up its core search business. I'm not a big fan of the "throw-shit-on-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks" business model. Focusing on quality over quantity seems less evil.

Re:Quantity Over Quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15635734)

There will be plenty of people chewing up the search results (with evil SEO tactics like spamming) regardless of whether Google releases Google Earwax or otherwise.

Setting the bar too high? (5, Insightful)

jbellis (142590) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635700)


  Case in point: Google Maps, which trails only MapQuest in mapping-site traffic thanks to such innovations as aerial views and "click-and-drag" maps to make navigation easier. The product has become so popular that other outfits build new businesses or services around it, creating "mash-ups" that show things like real-estate listings or crime statistics on top of Google's maps. And four-year-old Google News offers top stories in 40 different countries and languages. That has spurred a jump of over 600% in international usage in the past year, making it the second-most-trafficked news aggregation site.


A strong #2 doesn't sound like miserable failure to me.

--
Carnage Blender [carnageblender.com] : Meet interesting people. Kill them.

Re:Setting the bar too high? (1)

PezJunkie42 (837065) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636222)

Additionally, much like Gmail, Google Maps has raised the bar and forced the competition to play catch-up.
You can't look at the the Yahoo Maps Beta [yahoo.com] and tell me it isn't a direct "borrowing" of Google Maps/Google Local.

Losing Focus of Google's Core Business (3, Insightful)

kungfuSiR (753429) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635728)

I think the author of this article is far too focused on the idea that Google should be trying to expand its core business, when I believe that Google is focused on finding new places for its core business to operate. Most of the "new" services Google is offering are nothing more then ways to extend the reach of their core business. Take for example Gmail, an amazing free mail service that has allowed Google another outlet for its advertisers to place ads. Through the beta we have seen more advertising, and better ad targeting due to information being collected about you through Gmail. Another example of this strategy is Google Video which is now placing targeted advertising in videos in order to provide their advertisers with yet another venue to attract consumers. To me it just seems that Google has been looking for ways to increase how much money it can make from its core business, which of course is advertising. These "new" services that Google releases, in my opinion, are just extensions of this core business model. So in the end isn't Google doing a great job?

Re:Losing Focus of Google's Core Business (1)

NoRefill (92509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636273)

I think you hit the nail on the head. Google sells ads. All of the products they release are just ways to sell more ads or give more ad exposure. If they put out a good product at the same time, then that's helpful. If it dies on the vine, it counts as a loss, but it's still just a drop in the bucket.

Re:Losing Focus of Google's Core Business (1)

notnAP (846325) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636340)

Much kudo points to this post.
Google's "core business" is not "to provide a search engine."
It is to "make money via ads." To do this, they use the business model of offering innovative, good, attractive, wonderful, great, etc. tools that are provided for "free," in the same way FM radio was once described as "bearing a gift beyond price, almost free." [rush.com]
The first of these tools was the seach engine so successful we now associate the company that provided it with the action it performs.
And as for people who think Google is not doing well to further develop its search engine specifically... Check out the features Google makes available for customization using plugins and extensions. There isn't much available at other engines that can't be found at Google as well, given the user's ability to add the feature to their browser (and their browser's ability to add features!) Seems to me the "core" search engine is continuing to develop well from the user's point of view.

Managed Innovation? (3M model?) (2, Insightful)

webword (82711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635733)

3M has been doing something similar forever. [manufacturingnews.com] (More here too... [pdma.org] )

Is Google doing this as managed innovation or is Google throwing "it" against the wall to see what sticks?

Many of Google's "new" services support search. (1)

bepolite (972314) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635740)

Google Analytics in particular gives them better and more accurate information to improve the results of their core business search. Also Google's flurry of product launches has increased competition across the board. That sounds good not evil to me.

Sometimes I wish I could buy something from Google (4, Insightful)

billtom (126004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635745)

Of course, it's nice to get all the free stuff, but there are times that I wish that I could pay Google directly for some of their products. Why? Because I want to clearly signal to them that I want them to keep the product around and keep working on it. When the means for the consumer to signal the producer is absent (for example, in Picasa) or indirect (for example, in gmail), there's a larger risk that the producer will discontinue the product (or stop active development of it).

For example, I use gmail all the time. But I have never, not once ever, clicked on an ad in gmail. So from my input, a bean-counter at gmail could conclude that I don't care about gmail.

Sure, I could click on ads from time to time even though I have no interest in the products in the ads, but there are times that I wish I could just give Google a few bucks a year to give them a direct incentive to keep gmail going.

Re:Sometimes I wish I could buy something from Goo (1)

Brix Braxton (676594) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635824)

I smell what your steppin' in. I don't think I've ever impulsively clicked on an ad in google - in fact, it's so unobtrusive in gmail that I don't even notice them. I have intentionally clicked on an ad or two to signal that "it's working" though.

As for Picassa, I think that ordering prints and using the blogger and emailing pictures signals them plenty whether it's working or not so in effect, you are buying it (I order prints through Picassa all the time - since I get to choose my vendor).

Bean-counters at Google don't count beans. (1)

Mantle (104724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635907)

By using gmail, you are signaling to Google that you want to keep using it. You don't need to click on their ads to provide value to them. In fact, the direct beneficiary of the click is probably not even Google, but the company advertising. The bean-counters at Google aren't counting ad revenue. They are counting how often you email whom, what your most common email topics are, and who you email what to whom. That is the value you are providing to them.

If you want to give a direct incentive to Google, start exposing more and more of your private life to them through plaintext gmail.

Re:Bean-counters at Google don't count beans. (1)

billtom (126004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636012)

I don't understand your argument. Here's the conversation I could see happening at google:

Google Bean-counter: People aren't clicking on ads in gmail. So advertisers don't want to advertise there. So we're not making any money with gmail.

Google Visionary: But gmail is wildly popular and the halo effect to the company is worth millions!

BC: It's all very well to talk intangibles, but the bottom line for gmail is in the red. We're a public company and we can't pursue "feel-good" money-losing projects forever.

GV: Don't be evil!

Now, I don't know which side would win that arguement. At today's google, the visionary would probably win out. But google five years from now... who can say. That's why I want both the visionary and the bean-counter on my side.

Marissa Meyer (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635752)

No pics in the article, but Marissa Meyer is pretty hot, in case you didn't know.

pic 1 [google.com]
pic 2 [mediajunk.com]

Re:Marissa Meyer (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635822)

That explains the bullshit that comes out of her mouth. She got where she is just on her looks.

Re:Marissa Meyer (1)

slashdotmsiriv (922939) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635838)

Damn it, i thought that Marissa wrote that crap about google not having successful products. I retract the above comment, and please don't spare me any troll mods.

Good enough is good enough (3, Insightful)

ztirffritz (754606) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635780)

Google does not need to be market leader in any particular fields. They just need to be good enough. Their business is presenting advertising that is targeted to an audience. Whatever they can do that keeps your eyes focused on their ads is a success. MS Maps may be a better product than Google Maps, but if I can click on a on a google search result and from that one click I'm able to find the vendor, call them, schedule an appointment and put it on my calendar, tranfer funds to them, and record the transaction on a spreadsheet I'd say Google just kicked the snot out of any of their competitors...they just managed to get me to look at about 10 times more ads than their competitors, and the ads are better targeted as well because they now know that I'm willing to spend money on product x and live near location z. This information only further refines their marketing tools.

Google is fine (4, Interesting)

bberens (965711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635798)

I think the author of that article, and many of the /. posters are missing the point. Advertising is a numbers game. Google doesn't need 50%+1 market share on their calendar app in order for it to be a success. What they need is page loads. Every time a user reads an e-mail, Google makes money. Every time a user gets driving directions from Google maps, Google makes money. Google doesn't need a killer anything app. They need tons and tons of traffic. The best way of doing that is to make as many good solid apps as they can now while their wallets are still fat from their IPO. Of COURSE their stock is over priced right now. It's going to go down. How much? Who knows. This is not a 'throw ideas at the wall and see what sticks' market strategy. This is a 'do every thing we can to increase page loads' strategy. It's working, and it's going to keep working.

permit cookies, adblock, noscript (1)

Miguel de Icaza (660439) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635916)

google knows on a long enough timeline everyone blocks ads. They produce a zillion glittery google branded toys, so that everyone has at least one bookmarked. All googles toys need javascript and cookies enabled for the google.com (and your local google) domain and same goes for their adverts. Disabling individual cookies and scripts within a domain is a major PITA with current tools so even die hard blockers don't bother YMMV. As long as you accept their cookies and run their scripts they have a profitable business. Google are probably terrified ie7+ will default to microsofts version of filterset.g

Product Updates? (3, Informative)

why-lurk (252433) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635970)

My main complaint about Google's product releases is not their scattershot approach -- I'm happy to see them try to find ways to improve existing product niches.

But they rarely seem to update their online products:
  * Gmail, despite its strong launch and obvious success, has seen little development since. By now, we would expect to see much stronger import/export features, more filtering and junk mail controls...
  * Google Video was pretty weak at launch, and amazingly, hasn't improved much since. Details on the videos shown is weak, and 3rd-party review links, imdb links, etc. are nonexistent. Methods for transferring and showing the video on portable devices and Tivo are... completely absent.
  * Froogle, News, Maps, and more have stagnated since their beta launch (except that Google's purchase of new imagery for Earth has benefited Maps), despite much improvement from the competition (seen Yahoo Maps lately?).

In fact, pretty much the only products they regularly update are the native apps they purchased from startups, like Earth, Picasa, and Sketchup. These appear to have kept their development teams from pre-acquisition days, and continue to make small but regular improvements.

It's amazing to me that a company with as many employees as Google can make so many online services appear to be the work of one or two developers in their spare time -- strong on concept, but weak on follow-through.

    --kirby

Re:Product Updates? (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636160)

I'm not sure that's true, though I've only been using these services for a short while.

GMail has gained quite a few features, including web based chat and integration with the calendar service. They have a "new features" link that appears occasionally. And of course space available constantly increases, which you could count as a feature.

Google Video has gained a ton since its launch as a basic Flash frontend to crawled videos. They got video categories, labelling, ratings, pay-for videos, improved format/codec support, downloads and your assertion that it doesn't include mobile devices is wrong - you can download videos for the iPod and Sony PSP. I don't know how you'd download a video to TiVo - the one my family has doesn't allow you to download videos to it (though it's an old model).

I don't use Froogle and only rarely use News so can't comment there. As you say, Maps benefitted from the new satellite imagery which is truly great, but apart from that it doesn't seem to have changed much. Google Earth still looks better but has useless search, Google Maps has great search and a sorta lame UI (thanks to browser limitations). Yahoo Maps is very slick I will agree but it's also quite slow due to its reliance on Flash and once you get over the smoother zooming it doesn't seem to add much. At least I tried it and didn't feel any particular need to change to it, when I use it.

It's amazing to me that a company with as many employees as Google

According to the article Google only has about 5000 employees. Not as many as I'd thought it'd be.

They really aren't doing anything unique ... (1)

draed (444221) | more than 8 years ago | (#15635977)

Almost everything google does has been done before and done better. web-based spreadsheet? web-based calendar? web-based maps? web-based e-mail? With the exception of e-mail, everything has been done before and done better than google did it.

Re:They really aren't doing anything unique ... (1)

adamsblueguitar (796090) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636086)

Are you serious? What web-based map system is so far superior to google maps?

Google == ad revenue (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636009)

Despite lots of fanfare, a close look at the products reveals that Google still hasn't produced a huge winner...Google has yet to establish a single market leader outside its core search business.
Is it possible that Google's goal with all of these products is merely to hold it's lead in the search business? Instead of paying a million dollars for a TV ad campaign, they spend a million dollars developing a nifty useful tool. It hits their target market better, and provides positive benefit to their users.

Reminds me of Bean from Enders game... (4, Interesting)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636044)

Bean was smarter than Ender (smart to an unholy / scary degree if you read the Bean quartet). However, in battle school, Beans record as a team leader was 0 - 10 compared to Enders perfect record.

Bean's failure rate was so high because he was trying to find out what strategies worked and which ones did not, and he did so by examining strategies that no one in thier right mind would try, just to see why they failed, and what things about them potentially worked. He did this because he did not care about the win / loss record, and he was using the school environment to find out what worked and what didn't.

And when he got out of the battle school, he never failed once.

Getting back to Google, they are trying products that may or may not work. Not everything needs to be a screaming huge success, and if gmail turned into a huge disaster, its not like it would invalidate their business model for Google Search.

END COMMUNICATION

Re:Reminds me of Bean from Enders game... (1)

brooke_nobody (972787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636293)

Nice comparison! Orson Scott Card is the man.

GMail? (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636128)

I think Gmail has done a pretty good job of establishing itself outside the search realm.

It will just take time... (2, Interesting)

brooke_nobody (972787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636253)

As I understand it, Google is employing the free-beta now, paid-service later strategy for their new products. They're entering into markets with established competitors and what better way to gain market share than to offer their products free of charge? If you want people to migrate their desktop environment onto the web via email & appointment schedules (MS Outlook -> Google Calendar/Gmail) and office tools (MS Excel/Word -> Google Spreadsheets/Notes) in innovative ways, you sure aren't going to get many people trying it out if they have to pay for it. And what about Adsense? Google is generating so much income from their advertising models they can afford to start up dozens of new ventures and takes bigger risks. It took time to get from command prompts to GUIs. It took time to get people to buy products online via credit card. It took time to develop the web into the social networking monster it's becoming. And it will take time for Google to eventually become the overlord of all web desktop environments. I may not like some of their practices, but I can't knock them for trying hard to bring us new technologies.

killer app not the point (2, Interesting)

dweebzilla (871704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15636280)

What Google is doing IMO is brilliant, by allowing employees to have pet projects and explore and push the boundaries using their expertise, Google is tapping directly into the "garage developer/inventor" projects of employees that might otherwise be developed outside of Google.

It's cost effective in many ways, employees may tend to stay on target for their standard job and/or projects (that might otherwise be a bit dull) because they CAN flex their muscles and try new things. Google gets R&D on a budget from the people on their front lines, and then take what ever might come out of that, throw it up and see if it sticks. What a great and less expensive way to find the next killer app, while possibly defining the direction of the Internet & search, and keeping employees satisfied and 'on the team'.
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