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Why Google's New Products Need Not Succeed

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the in-and-of-themselves-heretofore-thereunder dept.

235

RJS writes "There have been some industry analysts lately who have called into question Google's real success, claiming that while Google's search remains a big winner, it has missed the mark when it comes to generating profitable, secondary products. BusinessWeek has just such an article ("So much fanfare, so few hits") but others argue that success relative to the size of Google's bread-and-butter (search) ultimately doesn't matter because it doesn't cost Google much extra to keep these secondary services — like Gmail — operational: the Google grid is on and growing regardless of what services are being run on top of it."

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235 comments

Economies of Scale,Buliding a Brand,Marginal Cost (4, Insightful)

Marc2k (221814) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927227)

These are all basic principles of economics. Nothing for you to see here, move along.

Re:Economies of Scale,Buliding a Brand,Marginal Co (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927526)

Well, it depends what you mean by "matters". Does it hurt Google to keep churning out one unprofitable GWhatever-beta after another? Not really, as long as they have their choice of new hires and are paying them with overpriced stock.

But if you own that overpriced stock on the premise that Google is going to keep generating new businesses to complement the only thing they have that makes them money -- then it matters whether GWhatever turns a profit or not.

Re:Economies of Scale,Buliding a Brand,Marginal Co (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927857)

If you own the stock, and you bought it in its overpriced state, you've already made a mistake, and it's not Google's responsibility to bail you out.

Whoa....I just heard of this new technology .... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927232)

NEW TECHNOLOGY TURNS weenersecks INTO Babies....

FILIM @ 11!!!!

Sure, they want to make money (5, Insightful)

solidtransient (883338) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927252)

Gmail is by far my favorite web-based email client. Google Calendar has proven to be a very useful tool as well. I use Google Local at least once a week and on and on and on. Maybe Google knows they make enough money on search and that they just want to release good, useful, user-friendly products that are miles better than the competition, even if they aren't profitable. Yahoo's gazillion ads on their email service is one reason I don't use it anymore.

Re:Sure, they want to make money (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927318)

"Gmail is by far my favorite web-based email client"

It filters pretty well. I'd like it even more if I could find the obscure settings to make it work in a more useful fashion (all emails in date order with no odd groupings, and the ability to easily change the Subject without digging for it: you know, the easier standard way for email to work).

Re:Sure, they want to make money (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927873)

Yes, unfortunately conversation threading is so strange to people that most haven't a clue what they're looking at when they see it.

Once you get used to it, and realize that's the way it should have been ALL ALONG, you're off to the races.

Re:Sure, they want to make money (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927894)

"Once you get used to it, and realize that's the way it should have been ALL ALONG, you're off to the races."

I've been using it for quite a while now, and I still do not like it compared to normal email organization. Unfortunately, I could not this morning find a way in the settings to 'fix' Gmail either. It's a matter of preference. I would not say that either way is "the way it should have been all along" for everyone.

Re:Sure, they want to make money (2, Insightful)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928052)

There is nothing to 'fix', except how you view email.

Is email simply a chronoligical list of snippits of information? Or could it contain actual conversations?

Maybe email can be more than you allow it to be, if you were to just let it do so.

Re:Sure, they want to make money (5, Informative)

iced_773 (857608) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927374)

Gmail offers POP3 for free while Yahoo makes you subscribe to Yahoo Plus.

Also, Google Sketchup [google.com] is pretty neat...

Re:Sure, they want to make money (1)

iwsnet (946715) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927505)

I like their map service with the satellite and hybrid capabilities. Also very easy to scroll around on the maps for better views.

I hate GMAIL (1)

DrDitto (962751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927520)

Maybe I just don't understand Gmail, but I hate it. When I first login, all I see is a cluttered view of mail. Sure, I can filter and assign labels to things, but it is completely unintuitive to me.

I guess Gmail did cause Yahoo to up its quota.

Re:I hate GMAIL (3, Informative)

navarroj (907499) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927711)

Yes, you don't understand it.

Archive everything to keep your Inbox clear. Then search for old messages when you need them, by labels, by people, or by keywords. You don't have to see a "cluttered view" of your mail.

Re:I hate GMAIL (1)

Will2k_is_here (675262) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928006)

You probably also have that first line setting on. If your settings will display the first line of the email, your inbox looks like a list of lines of text. Turn that feature off and you will see the subject lines only like a normal email account.

Re:Sure, they want to make money (5, Insightful)

lowid (24) _________ (878977) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927668)

Maybe Google knows they make enough money on search and that they just want to release good, useful, user-friendly products that are miles better than the competition, even if they aren't profitable.

I think that the point of them doing this is that it adds value to their brand. Maybe they aren't turning a profit with some of their niche services, but those services are driving users to the rest of google's more profitable offerings. Have you used the google text messaging service? It's incredibly useful, and probably not directly profitable for google. Often when i'm driving around and realize i need to go somewhere (for example a hardware store) i can just text google, and seconds later receive a text with addresses and phone numbers of nearby hardware stores. They haven't made any money directly off me with this service, but since I enjoy and use the service so much I'd say I'm more likely to look out for other google offerings and use other google products in the future.

It's kind of like advertising - they're just building their brand and driving more and more users to their products. Even if their new products don't "succeed," per se, as long as they're pretty neat it will help them in the long run.

Re:Sure, they want to make money (4, Funny)

Om (5281) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927766)



Maybe Google knows they make enough money on search and that they just want to release good, useful, user-friendly products that are miles better than the competition, even if they aren't profitable.


*slaps your face*

SNAP OUT OF IT! Don't you understand!? They're here to kill us all! ALL OF US!

++Om

Re:Sure, they want to make money (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927962)

enter testimonials..

Funny thing (5, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927255)

it took google's search engine 3-5 years to overcome inertia in a relatively new arena (web search). Now, it is competing against much longer established business (e-mail has been around for multiple decades). It will not be overnight that Google services will grow, but they will grow.

Re:Funny thing (3, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927319)

And that's generally true of any product that attempts to enter an already established market. You make an initial splash but then it takes a while to build a base beyond the initial rush. Word of mouth eventually takes over and assuming a product is useful or even desireable, eventually its acceptance rate increases (look at Firefox's steady growth).

Re:Funny thing (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927357)

The difference being that Firefox had to build a new brand. Yes, the internals are mozilla, but mozilla pretty much killed its name 5-8 years earlier. Firefox is working on creating a brand name in a very saturated market.

Nice thing for Google, is that although they are the new player on the block (vs. yahoo, aol, MS, etc), they have a superior reputation to all the other players. They just have to capitalize on that (i.e. no crap products that take their name down).

Re:Funny thing (5, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927448)

Nice thing for Google, is that although they are the new player on the block (vs. yahoo, aol, MS, etc), they have a superior reputation to all the other players. They just have to capitalize on that (i.e. no crap products that take their name down).

The thing that bothers me about Google is: is it too much of a good thing? Put aside quality for a moment; is it possible Google's continuing expansion will spread it too thin? Mind you, Amazon has been expanding for what seems like eons now, but their main site is starting to get cluttered and I think they've been overstepping their reach with some of the areas they've gotten into (Groceries?). I'd be afraid of Google diluting itself too much in an attempt to become universally ubiquitous.

Re:Funny thing (3, Insightful)

zenslug (542549) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927535)

is it possible Google's continuing expansion will spread it too thin?
I think it al depends on how Google organizes itself. If it tries to become a borg, then it will suffer from its size like all of the rest of them. But if Google can operate internally as a distributed collection of startups, all leveraging the great infrastructure they've built and minds they've collected, then I think they stand a much better chance of benefitting from economies of scale and not being dragged down by bloat.

Re:Funny thing (3, Insightful)

cyngus (753668) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928030)

I think that you've hit on something that makes Google unique, in that they are like a giant collection of startups. Google is organized into a variety of teams that operate in relative autonomy to the whole. They do stay in touch with the "mothership" and cooperate where it makes sense and will enhance their products, but most of their products are relatively standalone, or at least start that way. A lot of web companies (Yahoo) try to tightly integrate all their services from the get-go, if a service can't be made to drive more traffic to the rest of the portal, its a no-go. Google's products tend to start out as islands and gradually be drawn into the Google network (notice the increasing integration of Gmail with other services). I think the benefit here is then the links with the rest of the product portfolio grow organically where it makes sense rather than where people guess it will make sense or the marketing people think it'll work to drive cross traffic.

I also think that, while unstated, one of Google's philosophies with hiring is to just get a bunch of smart people together in a room, give them resources, and say, "Make whatever you want, because probably other people want it too." This requires one thing primarily, an ability to find just the right people who will use this environment and not exploit it. The key to continuing Google success is being able to find the right people.

Re:Funny thing (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927596)

That will depend on management. They are hiring good geeks (actually great geeks) that are tech savy(able to invent and do things) rather than busines savy (read political a**kissers who learn how to take credit and spread the blame). The real question is, have they been hiring the right middle management. These are the guys who can break the company (even though they rarely make the company). Yahoo screwed up long ago, by hiring business ppl who let their tech edge go (hiring business savy geeks rather than tech savy). MS, same way (their monopoly kept them alive). Amazon is whole nother creature. I have not stayed up on them and I have no friends working there, so I really can not comment on them. But from where I sit, they seem to be doing ok. Of course, they probably should do some updating on their website and consider taking on e-bay. Perhaps work with google to accomplish such?

u in honour, s in capitalise (off-topic) (1)

[ella] (122929) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927791)

I do understand your preference for honour with a u, but what's up with that z in capitalise ?

Re:u in honour, s in capitalise (off-topic) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15928054)

I have had 2-3 hours of sleep a night since sunday night.

Re:Funny thing (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927806)

People also need to learn the Google way of thinking, which in my mind is to let the computer do the work, and you just tell it what you want to see... I rarely tag emails in gmail, because the search function pulls up any email that I need to look at. that saves me time sorting through all my email, but at the same time there are a lot of people who don't "get" that yet. It's going to be even harder for spreadsheets and Writely to get in there, too. YOu really need to change your thinking in order to "get" the app.

Hmmm... maybe? (2, Insightful)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927261)

Google search is the most popular on the Internet. As a matter of fact it has been forever enshrined in the dictionary as such. Google will continue to be profitable


I do disagree with TFA in that it treats other services as inconsequential. There is a reason that Yahoo! ranks #1 on lists of most popular websites. Although there are GMail and a customized homepage [google.com] , Yahoo! still beats them on those fronts. The search market is pretty well defined. In order for Google to become an even bigger success it must become extremely successful in its side businesses. I refuse to accept TFA's arguement that it doesn't matter because they aren't spend that much money on it.

Re:Hmmm... maybe? (4, Interesting)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927315)

I think you're crazy if you think Yahoo! Mail is better than Gmail. I have two accounts for each. My first web-based email account was Yahoo!, so I've been with them for a very long time.

The reasons I like GMail so much better are:

1. I got on board early (admittedly not a design feature) so I got the names I wanted
2. Better GUI - simpler, more powerful
3. Integration with awesome products that involve sharing I love being able to share Google Calenders with my wife. We each have a personal calender and we share a calender for stuff we do together - and it all shows up (color-coded) on one display. It's brilliant. We use Google Spreadsheet for simple budget tracking as well.

Yahoo is #1 because of the head-start, that's it.

-stormin

Re:Hmmm... maybe? (1)

MaXMC (138127) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927677)

So you admit to breaking the agreement with Google?
You're only allowed one account.

Multiple Accounts are allowed..... (3, Interesting)

cmdrbuzz (681767) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927866)

So you admit to breaking the agreement with Google?
You're only allowed one account.

Having just checked both the GMail Terms of Use [google.com] and the Program Policy [google.com] , the only information I can find relating to multiple accounts is:
"Prohibited Actions: Create multiple user accounts in connection with any violation of the Agreement or create user accounts by automated means or under false or fraudulent pretenses...."
which is under the Program Policy.

Where are you getting your information regarding only one account being allowed?

Re:Hmmm... maybe? (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927888)

fyi: Yahoo bought into the webmail business as an aside when it aquired four11.com ... which owned rocketmail.com one of the earlier webmail providers, still have my rocketmail address, which I don't use... if you see any yahoo users with .rm at the end of their yahhoo id, they've been around a while (10+ years now)

I think yahoo is making greater strides with webmail under competition, their new beta interface is okay, honestly, I use my own IMAP server for most of my needs, I like gmails "light" interface, but yahoo's is a bit easier imho, just hate the intrusive ads.

Re:Hmmm... maybe? (1)

natedubbya (645990) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927914)

I have two accounts for each. My first web-based email account was Yahoo!, so I've been with them for a very long time.

Just curious...have you moved/tried Yahoo's new ajax email interface? It's top notch and is more "friendly" to the average user because it looks and feels like a standalone product (such as Outlook). More users are and will find that interface way better than gmail's. Gmail tried to redefine the interface to e-mail rather than give users what they want. Only months and months of complaints later did they add the "delete" button, oooooh, new feature!! Yahoo! email will always have an advantage in that the commone web user is used to that kind of drag and drop folder-based organization.


Re:Hmmm... maybe? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927369)

There is a reason that Yahoo! ranks #1 on lists of most popular websites.
Yeah, ISP co-branding. But Google is working on undermining that advantage, not by duplicating it, but by becoming an access provider in its own right.

yahoo... yeah back in the 90's (3, Interesting)

BillGod (639198) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927459)

I used yahoo search and email YEARS ago. One day they up and changed format. Stuff scattered all over the place searches returned were by those who paid more.. and OMFG the adds. Hotbot became my next choice and then the company we all know and love GOOGLE. Yahoo is still the #1 site not because of content or ease of use. Its simply because people hate change. No one wants to change their email address from @yahoo to @gmail because its a hassle. It has nothing to do with yahoo being better. only stupid people. My mom knows she types in yahoo then clicks on the email button to get her mail. Trying to even get her to navigate to gmail would be next to impossible. to her yahoo is better because she knows how to do it.

Re:yahoo... yeah back in the 90's (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927488)

"No one wants to change their email address from @yahoo to @gmail because its a hassle."

I have both and prefer Yahoo. This is because of the default settings (mail organization in Yahoo is a lot nicer than in Gmail). The preference might change if I bothered to find the settings in Gmail so it wouldn't be bogged down by the odd dis-organization of the messages.

Re:yahoo... yeah back in the 90's (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928023)

You mean message threading.

My god, I can't believe how many people just can't figure this out.

Take a second, look at your emails in google. Now, take a close look at the messages that are grouped together...oh look! It's actually a series of replies, IE: A CONVERSATION.

GMail is not broken. Rather, Outlook and almost every legacy email app out there made a very bad design decision a LONG TIME AGO. So bad and so long ago that we totally forget getting over the hump of figuring out why all the messages are only available in a newest to oldest order by default...Remember trying to piece back together an actual conversation? No, of course not, because it's all but impossible.

Now take a look at GMail again. Take 30 seconds to actually 'see' what's going on. Once it clicks, you'll never go back.

Re:yahoo... yeah back in the 90's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15928078)

>>The preference might change if I bothered to find the settings in Gmail so it wouldn't be bogged down by the odd dis-organization of the messages.

Before Google came, I was an Outlook addict. After using Gmail for a few months, I ditched outlook because I felt message organization better in gmail and that too with little or no work from my side.

Re:Hmmm... maybe? (3, Insightful)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927489)

Yahoo! couldn't be popular because it is the default homepage of millions of SBC/AT&T customers who don't know any better? Nah that's silly. Yahoo! has some nice services and some are indeed better than Google's offerings but for the most part people simply stick with their ISP's default homepage.

MalaMata.com to upgrade Google (Near Topic) (3, Interesting)

maxpow (879014) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927263)

MalaMata.com [malamata.com] is a cool DHTML application that really upgrades the use of Google IMHO.

So wait. (-1, Offtopic)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927265)

When Google starts charging for all this free crap, and trust me they will, what will YOU do.

Re:So wait. (3, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927284)

When Google starts charging for all this free crap, and trust me they will,

Sorry, I'd rather trust Google's established business model of targetted ads than some dvorak like tro^h^h^hpundit on /.

Re:So wait. (4, Interesting)

slindseyusa (942823) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927303)

They won't charge. They don't need to. You use it, they get to show you ads (their main revenue stream) AND use your data later with advanced data mining techniques so they can sell aggregate data on users. The more users the better.

Re:So wait. (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927732)

Switch it around. They could offer the services for a company. Pay for them, and you can host your own GoogleServer locally, to handle business needs using their Proven technology, that people are already familiar with.

Then they've made money from corporations by providing a valuable service, while maintaining the free product for public use, as well as wedged themselves into the service/application provider marketplace.

Re:So wait. (2, Interesting)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927310)

Why would they? They're already making tonnes off their ads. They'd probably make less money if they started asking for a fee.

Re:So wait. (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927482)

Not to drag this into Net Neutrality territory, but there's every possibility they might have to, to pay to keep themselves at the forefront with the telcos, at least untill their own fibre is in place.

It's a plot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927267)

Skynet is coming.

Googles real strategy (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927273)

These analysts miss the point. The big win for Google is to replace Micro$oft as the default platform. As Google tools, google desktop and of course Google search as the homepage become the default start point for users, the operating system becomes less relevant.

Put another way, once people are Google-centric, they can use a Mac or a "GooglePC" or anything else. Linux anyone?

Re:Googles real strategy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927384)

I respectfuly disagree, and also disagree with anyone who would rate the father post as insightful. Once people are google-centric *in the Internet usage*, they will still need their OS to support whatever work *Internet Indepdendent* work environment they operate in. Only college students, I think, treat the Internet itself as a work environment. In my academic field, we use, in addition, multiple software for statistical analysis, setting of manuscripts and formatting of figures and graphs. WHile there is a debate on whether MS or OSX are better suited for all these, nothing that google is doing currently (or, I think, will do in the next 1-2 years) has any relevance for the OS we run.

Re:Googles real strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927648)

I shall disagree with both you and the grandparent and split the difference. By "replacing the OS as the platform" that doesn't mean they are cutting into the heart of windows as an OS, merely cutting into its lock in. My people will probably continue to use Windows on the desktop as that is the status quo. Once applications become web-enabled, the lock to Windows weakens. Web-mail is a good example of this. I use gmail because wherever I go, I can log in and have all of my mail. My linux box, my girlfriends Windows laptop, or my cell phone with WAP - it doesn't matter. That is making the OS irrelevant.

Incidentally, I'm a Financial Analyst and, with the exception of Excel and Crystal Reports (which has some web functionality), everything I do is done through a web browser (ASP interface to Oracle). Do we need windows? Well, I'd have to pry pivot tables from some of the other analysts cold dead hands so that's unlikely but do we need it as much as we once did? Nope.

Also, can we get gmail's nifty spell check functionallity here on my slashdot postings. I had to copy this into Word to make it comprhensible.

Re:Googles real strategy (2, Insightful)

powerlord (28156) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927689)

yeah ... I don't see Google ever being able to be used for real office work like Word Processing [writely.com] with Collaboration, Spreadsheets [google.com] or Email [google.com] and Calendaring [google.com] . :)

Yes, there are lots of things for which a stand-alone computer need to be used, however from a practical perspective, we've been discussing diskless workstations and thin clients as being useful in a large percentage of the "work" market. If that is true, then there is no reason (outside of security or redundancy ... which can both be addressed) why the browser can't be the interface for the majority of office users.

Re:Googles real strategy (1)

jsharkey (975973) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927726)

As Google tools, google desktop and of course Google search as the homepage become the default start point for users, the operating system becomes less relevant.

Parent is completely right! My parents wouldn't dream of switching to Linux because they use Outlook and are tied down in their ways. However, I've gotten them to switch over to Firefox, which is a big step in the right direction.

I've weaned myself off all those nasty OS-related programs (except for WinAmp). The feeling is great--I can sit down at just about any computer in the world, and do everything from a browser and maybe a console. I could care less if it's Windows or Linux or OS/2 (Warpzilla)!

Re:Googles real strategy (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927757)

These analysts miss the point. The big win for Google is to replace Micro$oft as the default platform. As Google tools, google desktop and of course Google search as the homepage become the default start point for users, the operating system becomes less relevant.


Oh, please! The kinds of things that Google coudl provide from a web browser could easily be duplicated (and indeed already exist) on all major platforms. It isn't like LInux users, for example, were not reading email or using spreadsheets before Google introduced gmail and spreadsheets.

What makes the operating system "less releveant" are companies like Apple who are actually taking market share from MS. Once the monoculture is broken, everything will fall into place. While Google may profit from this shift, they are certainly NOT the engine driving it.

Put another way, once people are Google-centric, they can use a Mac or a "GooglePC" or anything else. Linux anyone?


So instead of a Microsoft monoculture, you want a Google monoculture?

-matthew

it does matter (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927274)

when/if critical mass of semi-successful projects creates perception of google having lots its edge, the fickle internet population will turn away on a dime. happened to altavista, yahoo and no doubt can happen to google.

Dot-Com Mentality (3, Insightful)

ehaggis (879721) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927283)

If Google can't find secondary sources of income and continues to ride on excitement and enthusiasm they will fall prey to the dot-com business model. Eventually someone will build a better mouse-trap (search engine).

It's hard to push the leader from his throne (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927460)

Even if your product is a billion times better, more stable and whatnot.

For reference, see Windows and Linux.

Re:It's hard to push the leader from his throne (1)

Sparohok (318277) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927822)

Tell that to Lycos and Alta Vista. They were each at one point in time prohibitive market leaders in search. There is no evidence whatsoever that web search provides a durable competitive advantage to market leaders. People go where they get the best search results.

It's likely that this is changing in degree as Internet use widens to a less well informed public. Naive users will probably be more loyal than web users of the late 90s. However there's no reason to believe that this changes the fundamental dynamic of web services which has been observed again and again: it is a meritocracy where entrenched market leaders have only incremental advantages in the long term.

Martin

Timing and Infrastructure (1)

darkstormejd (981855) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927812)

When Google came into being in 1997, the web was a fraction of the size it is today, and search engines were still proliferating. Now, Google's massive storage centres subsume the web, and this is part of what gives its search engine its astonishing power.

It would be very difficult for another search engine company to follow suit (start up in a garage with a dozen networked computers) given the current state of the web - even if they did manage to find a better algorithm than the company which makes a habit of simply hiring the best PhDs and graduate students they can get their hands on.

Cult of the Google (1)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927291)

Google is beating out other search providers like Yahoo and Altavista due to one big difference - a cult following. All the (us) Google nerds really just enjoy Google's search engine, email service, and all these other nifty tools they're coming out with. Honestly, how many Yahoo nerds are there out there?

Re:Cult of the Google (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927337)

Honestly, how many Yahoo nerds are there out there?
Probably quite a few (though less, perhaps, than Google has), for largely the same kind of reasons. Yahoo! has lots of toys, too (Yahoo! Widget Engine, for one.)

Time will tell (2, Insightful)

FiveDollarYoBet (956765) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927300)

It took google's search engine a while to catch on and become the standard. Nearly everyone I know who uses a web based mail client has switched to gmail and google maps is the only place I go for directions.

It takes time for new software to catch on. In the meantime I think google is doing the right thing by putting a lot of new products out there. Maybe all of them won't catch on but it seems like the majority of them are building a following.

Re:Time will tell (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927603)

In six years, how many of those same people will still be using Gmail and Google Maps when Quixblo is the premiere "Web 3.0" search engine that Slashdot keeps gushing about?

Google's “secondary” products (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927306)

Don't exist, I think (at least, in many cases), to make money directly, at least in the short term; rather, they exist to reinforce the profitability of its primary products by increasing stickiness.

Bombshell (3, Interesting)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927317)

Google has an ace in the hole: the reverse of the Net Neutrality extortion scheme. First they get everybody to use all their free services, Google account, calendar, mail, search history, desktop search, etc. And then Google says to the big ISPs, hey, your customers want to jack in to our distributed computing network? Better pay up! $x.xx per user per month. Guaranteed revenue from the big telcos/cable companies, the ISPs have to run the billing and collection operations while Google just rakes in the bucks.

...but that would be sort of evil.

They're already evil. (3, Interesting)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927358)

"but that would be sort of evil."

They're already evil. Why else would they be retaining personally-identifiable search information? So far, they've refused to divulge it. But a change in company policy or a court-order could change that. (It's like the library information controversy in the PATRIOT Act arguments: once you've returned the books, why should the library retain any sort of record of your past book checkouts AT ALL????)

Re:They're already evil. (1)

jrockway (229604) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927896)

> Why else would they be retaining personally-identifiable search information?

Perhaps because that's useful data that they can use to turn their results and make their product more useful?

> Why should the library retain any sort of record of your past book checkouts AT ALL?

They shouldn't. Apples to oranges.

However, the problem is not with Google or libraries -- the problem is with a society that assumes search results and the books you read are "evidence" in a court of law.

It's not apples and oranges. (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927970)

Both are examples of data that there is no good reason to retain.

"Perhaps because that's useful data that they can use to turn their results and make their product more useful?"

You mean in the same way spyware and Adclick cookies are "useful"? Can you name any good reason to have this data correlated to real identifiable persons?

"However, the problem is not with Google or libraries -- the problem is with a society that assumes search results and the books you read are "evidence" in a court of law."

The problem is with Google and the libraries, not the courts of law. If they did not retain personally-identifiable information that there is no good reason to retain, the courts would have nothing to dig for.

Money, bah! (4, Insightful)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927325)

That's right: Bah! Following the example of my heroes W Buffett and W Gates III, I hereby announce that I'm giving all my savings to the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation. I don't want any dynasty founded on my $763.84.

Google is building highly usable applications that are not OS-dependent. THAT is what is scaring the traditional software makers. The browser is the interpreter. Firefox is Google's wedge and everything they do is helping to change the way people use computers.

Secondary Products? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927330)

What did you expect? Google started off on searching for things, and they have found ways to incorporate it into their other products. It would seem that Google's main offering is "searching for information". Their secondary products enhance or focus different areas of search. For example, Froogle, or Google Maps. Then you have Ad Sense that provides based on what you're searching for.

Google hasn't made any statements about major secondary products. It doesn't look like they are trying to. They are providing tools that people find useful. The ultimate judge is the consumer, and so far, it looks like Google must be doing something right, because the consumers like most of what they are offering.

To say that Google will remain successful even if it comes up with "useless" products, is not true. Competition will ensure that they think of something new. Sure they have little knicknacks here and there (Google Labs?) but they're not MEANT to be big products.

If Google comes up with another major product, I'm pretty sure we'll know. They have the resources and talent for it.

Tests....? (1)

sumi-manga (948999) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927340)

Not only that, but it seems like a LOT of the programs released from Google are simply, in a way, tests for their hugely monstrous infrastructure. We know they have shown a lot of interest in artificial intelligence and extreme scale redundancy (and of course all that dark fiber) and I would not be surprised if they are using data from beta tests i.e. - Gmail Hosted, Google Pages, Google Video, etc. to implement some really nice (profit!) things in the future. All of these solutions have insane reliability and speed - essentially from anywhere on earth. I hope to see Google working hard for the next 5 years, before GoogleNet launches.

Huh. Shameless self-promotion? (1, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927363)

I always wondered whether Google ever considered just throwing a link on their homepage occasionally, when they really want people to read something. I mean, sure, it would be immeasurably worse than a Slashdotting, but even something like the Net Neutrality stuff.

I doubt they would actually do it, though. A large advantage Google has over the competition is that they are at least perceived as a commons -- anyone can buy Google adspace, and it has nothing to do with their relationship with Google and everything to do with statistical analysis -- PageRank.

Goodwill. (2, Interesting)

Tracer_Bullet82 (766262) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927366)

A good business is beyond just direct and immediate cashflow/revenues of one/a particular products.

A good business builds goodwill The extra services by google builds goodwill.

Sure right now its mostly appeals to advanced/experienced net users.. but advanced/experienced net users we're also the first movers/adopters of Google(search)

Yet they've caused innovation (5, Interesting)

JGuru42 (140509) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927367)

Google might not be making large sums of money off of their other products that have been created but it's hard to deny that they haven't caused a major change in how other online companies do their business.



After using Hotmail for all those years and then switching over to GMail as my primary e-mail I was stunned by how many things Gmail did that made it easier to work with. Now my junk e-mail account was still at Hotmail and when they asked me to be part of the beta testing for Windows Live Mail I figured it's only the junk e-mail account so I gave it a shot.



Windows Live Mail seems like someone tried to take Outlook and GMail and just mash the two of them together. However, Microsoft has still dropped the ball in making it easy to work with. For anyone who is part of the beta just try and delete multiple mails at the same time. Due to my long time of using computers I have no problem but most regular users are going to have trouble.



Even before Microsoft went for the complete overhaul they upped their maximum storage capacity in order to compete with GMail. So while it may not be a giant winner for Google money-wise, they've been a great boon to the end users who have finally started to see things get shaken up



Just like the article mentions I'll leave this innovative and beautiful Google web program with just a name, as if you've used it it's not likely you've forgotten it: Google Maps.

Exactly! (3, Insightful)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927401)

"Windows Live Mail seems like someone tried to take Outlook and GMail and just mash the two of them together. However, Microsoft has still dropped the ball in making it easy to work with. For anyone who is part of the beta just try and delete multiple mails at the same time"

Exactly! I stopped beta-testing it because they made it so difficult to delete the spams. In the regular hotmail, you can tag-check the spams in your inbox quickly and then delete the tagged ones. In "Live", you have to right-click all of them and then left-click the "Delete" button which is too close to the "Print" button so you end up accidentally printing spams instead of deleting them. Of course, if Microsoft/Hotmail were to ever bother to put a spam filter in place, this would be much less of a problem.

Re:Exactly! (3, Insightful)

idugcoal (965425) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927533)

actually, i was surprised how EASY this was. you can shift-click and/or ctrl-click messages and select them the same way you can in windows explorer. it's kind of counter-intuitive to do that in a browser, but it actually works. highlight, then delete.

not to say that i like windows mail beta. it's god-awful. i use gmail.

FUTURE (2, Insightful)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927376)

Everything Google launches is to build their ability to advertise in the future. IE their music tracking thing that launched today (or yesterday). Google pages, it is easy to have the content then find and search, plus putting ads in is easier when you control the template. I conjecture that they are using these services to track trends and usage to use with their advertising. If they can give you a accurate profile of people who search for "lop eared rabbit" (they tend to listen to jazz, write blogs about their kids, send emails to family and friends, they have only a few documents on their computers, etc...) then the advertising can be more complex than key words. The current state of advertising is poor, last time I Googled office supplies I needed the name of the office supply store down the road, I wasn't looking for ads. Generally I know what I am looking for Google is the Easy way to find it. I'm looking for Office Max I'm not concerned about an Office Depot. But if Google knew there was a White Castle between me and Office max and that I also listened to Hard Rock and that Hard Rock fans like White Castle they can show me that ad instead of a Staples ad. They are attempting to build advertising profiles and they use new stuff to build profiles and watch data spread. They are as much sociologists as they are programmers.

critical mass, similar to M$ approach (4, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927392)

Actually, their approach isnt that much different from Microsoft's, at least from an abstract view. They are slowly accumulating more and more useful products, and over time this will bring them to a critical mass. Once they surpass this, then more and more of their "other tools" will be the tools of choice in their specific areas, and then Google will be a monster in the marketplace. The trick will be to not then turn around and be "evil" (i.e. charge for services that were once free because you can, etc).

Re:critical mass, similar to M$ approach (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927620)

I don't think they'll ever charge anyone directly... That's the beauty of their market scheme. Discrete targeted ads, commissions for clicks, commissions for sales. You are being charged for what you see, you just don't know it. If they can control what you see on the internet, to some extent, they can control what you buy.

While supplies last (2, Interesting)

Inmatarian (814090) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927396)

Simple.

The more people that Google attracts to it's secondary features, the more customers it'll have using the main features. It's a special deal mail in rebate buy one get one free to the first 20 customers. Or, like keeping your doors open during the summer and letting the air conditioning blow out onto the hot streets. Anything to entice customers in.

hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927409)

they have other sources for recenue :)
http://www.secgeeks.com/ [secgeeks.com]

Long tail theory strikes again. (1)

skgstyle (625779) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927454)

Is this another (bad) example of the Long-tail theory?

These things Take Time (1)

shadowdodger (976256) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927481)

With so many things on the internet now a days thatare come and go, there are a lot of people that are skepticle about switching to a new company that might og under. Not even a new company sometimes, but a new product by the same old company. Much as the way that people have stayed with their PC's running windoze for years and years now, many people have stayed with Yahoo! becuase it's the e-mail that they had when they got thier first computer. Many people stay with AOL becuase it's all over the place. The new services that Google is offering will never take hold in a day or two, but instead will take time, and because they took the time to get noticed and grow in the public support they will stand the test of time. Not only that, but all of the product that Google offers are at least as good as thier competitors services. So once people get thier first look at the things that Google has to offer (whcih may take time) they will see no need to switch back to their old company. And one other thing that all of these other services afford to Google that no one really seems to consider is the possible inflow of information. Google knows everyone on the web, or at least could know everything. They can sum up the thoughts of the world (accoring to those that traffic google search at least) they can examine thoughts and questions. Above all this, put analyzing informatuon, they can know what people are looking for on the internet. Every time they add a new product they are generating a new way to take in information about the world. That's more valuable in the long run than money because you can have money, but without knowing how to spend it, you are going to fail.

Amen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15927510)

Gimme a beowulf cluster and I'll give you google in 1 month. The rest is crap. Nobody cares about gmail, except from the people who are working in google.

Personalized Home (1)

JGuru42 (140509) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927528)

I personally think Google is fine just the way it is when it comes to the home Google page. I can't help but thinking back to the old Altavista portal slag that used to be my search engine. Dial-up users would sit there waiting for it to load for way to long for someone to just pop in an search for something. Having such a clean and fast loading page was always a major draw for me and it's a great page to use if you are not sure if you have internet problems.

The only thing I can see Google doing to make things a little more exposed would be to replace the *new* "Even more" link with a flat link under the search box saying something like "Come play around with the rest of our toys."

GMAIL doesnt cost a lot? Explain that one! (1)

doctorjay (860762) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927530)

2 gig + for how many users? Ho can they afford to keep that up without being profitable?

Re:GMAIL doesnt cost a lot? Explain that one! (3, Insightful)

shadowdodger (976256) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927582)

Not as many as they'd like to I think, but then again, they can also advertise that space as being there as long as no one is using it. They may or may not do that, but if you've got enough space for 100k people to use 2gb+ and only 5k or them use that, and the rest use 100mb then you know that you can really offer 2gb+ to 20x more people. It's an airline strategy. They almost always over bok becuase they know that not everone will show up for thier flight. Trust me, google knows what percetage of people will actually use all 2gb.

Re:GMAIL doesnt cost a lot? Explain that one! (1)

generic-man (33649) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927631)

Look up "oversubscription." Virtually nobody is actually using anywhere near 2 GB of storage -- and if they find large pockets of people who are, they'll make sure that it's 2 GB of personal email.

Re:GMAIL doesnt cost a lot? Explain that one! (2, Insightful)

openglx (819573) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928029)

Have you ever consider their know-how in data compression and data storage? They have indexed *almost* (ok, ok, maybe just HTML and Images, but whatever) the whole fuckin' world wide web.

And how much of that 2GB isn't actually shared with other users? Do you have some pr0n there? Maybe other thousand users have the same, maybe even with the same filename. So they say "you are using 1.5GB", but of that 1.5GB much is stored in a shared space with other users.

Funny videos, PowerPoint Slides, pr0n... it's the same file stored there for you, or anyone in the world. A few security concerns about it, surely, but nothing THAT critical (think in something like: "if SHA256 and MD5 doesn't match, save in a new shared space").

Profit is not expected yet FOR a reason! (2, Funny)

rel4x (783238) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927531)

Of course none of their other software is creating a profit...how often does anyone's BETA software turn a profit?! ;-)

Google is not a business (1)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927580)

Google is a window into you, your business and your Life. Google the franchise is 'the window' (search, gmail, eblogger, etc...) building it, extending it and having your information pay for it is the revenue model.

The very first day Google moved its servers out of .edu environment no business case existed to cover its costs. Google is information driven. Corporations and gov't pay to sniff your window. You will not pay Google for information. Hence the GoogleOS.

PBS is likely a portion of the hybrid model Google will evolve toward for user generated revenue streams. PBS, a gov't funded enterprise, is off the gov't dole, living comfortably upon donations from various interests. GoogleOS the 'service' ala .mac is what you'll pay for access to run the GoogleOS.app which will likely be free as gmail, eblogger, etc... are free to download.

For 2012 (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927638)

Google OS for 2012.

Um. Yes they do need to succeed. (4, Insightful)

washirv (130045) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927639)

Whoever wrote this silly blogpost clearly hasn't considered the real reason Google needs their products to succeed. Google's bread and butter is their search product. But here's the problem: search growth is slowing. The only way for Google to keep growing their business at the breakneck speed that they and Wall St have become accustomed to is to find new places besides search pages that they can stick their ads on. Right now Google gets to do that using their Adsense program. Thousands of websites around the world are making Google tons of money. But the margins there will keep slipping as more competitors (Yahoo, MSN etc) come on in and offer to share higher percentages of their revenue with 3rd party publishers. This leaves Google with having to own their own "content" pages where they can stick their ads and book 100% of revenues from them. Unless their other products succeed, Google will truly become a one trick pony as far as their revenues are concerned. No responsible business can afford to become a one trick pony. That way lies death.

Nope (1)

richardwatson (218456) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927895)

All they have to do is hang on as more people join the net and use search, and they'll grow just fine, up to...oh, 6ish billion people. As long as people stick with them in search they're okay, because it's a key to so many other things.

Only true Google product failure (1, Informative)

haggie (957598) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927699)

In my mind is Google Calendar. Most people I know use Google for search, just about everyone has migrated to a Gmail account, my GF and I use gSpread for tracking our expenses, wrote invitations to a party on Writely, I use the Google homepage, etc... BUT to launch Google calendar without any tools to sync to other applications, tools, PDAs, etc and then to dump a half-baked API on the development community and let them struggle to figure it out on their own was really sub-par. Although all their products are "beta" this is, by far, the most beta of any product that they have released. Generally, they are handing Yahoo's ass to them. I have touched a Yahoo product since I switched from Yahoo! DSL almost a year ago. Google doesn't have to hit every ball out of the park, but a couple of strikeouts like gCalendar could lose them alot of goodwill and leave openings for competitors.

Strikeout? (1)

richardwatson (218456) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927843)

I guess it doesn't work for you, but it sure works for me. I've used it to subscribe to all sorts of public calendars (holidays in my country, open source meetings in my area, mountain biking, etc), view them with my own, and share a useful one with friends. It doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to stop me using Yahoo's calendar.

This is shortsighted.... (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927755)

Why do you think Google's on top of the search engine world? They're cutting edge and they have a simple interface. While it may not matter that the next thing Google rolls out is successful, it certainly matters that they keep rolling out interesting products and come up with a killer ap, such as gmail, every once in a while. Otherwise, there's nothing to keep the publics interest and curiousity with Google. Who's to say that Yahoo won't give themselves a face lift and change their attitude or that some other young upstart won't topple Google by offering something new and interesting? All it takes is something compelling enough to draw the publics interest, even if what pulls their interest isn't the main product.

The Big Picture? (1)

mythz (857024) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927844)

Can people not see whats happening? Google releases all these really cool products that eventually become apart of your daily life.

Before the only google app I couldnt live without was Google search
then Gmail (with Google Chat + Google Talk)
then Google News
then Google Local/Maps
now because of the integration of GMail Im even started to use Google Calendar because it is so convenient to use, I received a confirmation email about tickets I bought online, right beside my email there was a link to add the event to my calendar, within 2 weeks I had it booked - awesome!

I use all their services daily for free, what google gets in return is to host all your personal info so they can target you with ads. After using googles services for so many years my online profile must read like a diary, as it has everything I ever searched for (what im interested in), almost every place I have ever been (searches from Google Maps/Local) as well as most of my friends/contacts (emails and contacts) and their profiles, etc. I reckon Google knows more about me than I do (people forget things :))

Now the most important and valuable thing in IT is data and because of these added 'Google Services' they have a lot of it on a lot of people. Now since everything is tied to my gmail account (aka Google Account) it is likely that I will be using Google's services for the rest of my life. Where as if they just had a search then as soon as someone developed a better search I would've just easily switched.

Insanely useful, simple, and unobtrusive (2, Informative)

not already in use (972294) | more than 7 years ago | (#15927990)

Every single one of google's products incorporate google text ads. They are unobtrusive and relevent. Next time you're using gmail, and you're looking at an invoice for say, a hard drive you purchased. On the side bar, it will have text ads for hard drives, not only that, but if there is a tracking number in the email, gmail will offer a link to track the shipment. If there is an address in the email, gmail will offer to map it for you. Insanely useful, simple, and unobtrusive. This is why google is so successful.

Bullsh!!t (0, Troll)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 7 years ago | (#15928094)

Well, being the evil company they are now, my first natural reaction is bullsh!t. So let's explore that a little further to see if that's a good reaction.

Google burst into the search scene with a no nonsense, pure search engine, and advertised it as a reaction against bloated portals. They concentrated on what mattered, search!, instead of bloat. Then they wanted to become really rich, and everything went wrong: Google become an ad-broker, and went public. The game here is that each year you have to have more profit and even a larger percentage of profit, or the stock will go down, and this is done by selling more ads, thus you need more page views, thus you need more services.

So now, because of the two guys' quest for monetary tokens, we have arrived at the opposite of Google's original self-aclaimed goal and purpose. Ok, but as anyone with a little sense knows, despite some blinded nerds and fanboys on Slashdot, all the extra services are kind of failures, as compared to search. Even something as cool as Google Maps, many have been fooled by the appeal the atlas had on them like a child.. a nice toy for a while but you're hardly searching the map everyday are you? Many of the services are kind of average. The problem arises because of two things: they lost their original focus and focus now on no particular thing; their interface model doesn't stand. The last one is like the story of the emperor without clothes. Google's interface is bad, for non-search services. Really, you can't expect to have a really basic search engine interface, and then transfer that to all those complex services. Gmail, I tell you, is a usability nightmare. If only they would have made it look like a real app/interface. All this interface knowledge about how to capture usablity complexity best is thrown away and had to make place for confusing "minimalistic" web page look, which isn't minimal anymore because of the complexity and runs out of steam as a concept.

Anyway, I'm sure many of you can have wonderful arguments against that, but in the end I and many others, especially the non-nerd population, find ourselves only or mainly using search, and the difference now is they don't focus anymore.

Now comes this press release. The prime and sole target seems to be stock holders. It's an admission of failure really, their "launch many services to get much more page views" strategy failed, and now they need to spin it. This message is targetted at spinning that failure for stock holders.

Also, to claim the cost and risc is minimal is arrogant and dangerous. Stock holders read that as: Google has an enormous amount of overhead, lowering the barrier of competing/market entrance, and making space for another company to do the same, better and cheaper. It's not like it hasn't been done before... (Admittedly Google's is trying its best to higher the barrier of entrance in all other ways.)

Baidu for instance doesn't buy token Internet pioneers or gives their employees bloated salaries to spend 20% on toy projects. Yahoo! Search is still inferior but their harvesting is already superior and their sandbox alltheweb.com looks promosing on the logic side. MS has proven many times you should never judge them on a version 1 or 2, just get more scared if the versions keep coming.

Google shouldn't do bullsh!t or damage control or hire expensive spin doctors or try to get Google to Mars. For me as a user, they should concentrate on search. As a stock holder I have conflicting wishes, they should do better on search and much better on other services, and their sole income, out of ads, scares the hell out of me with all the click fraud and spammers turning their attention on Google with link farms and zombie click farms. As a stockholder, their diversity strategy is failing, and the message they give me is: lalalala I can't hear you oh no it was supposed to be this way etc. etc. This will not do. Stock holders want to hear how they stop being boys and start earning them more money.

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