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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nothing to buzz about

Clearly Google is struggling with innovation, and they are starting to look like the Yahoos of the world when it comes to social networking.
It seems that everything they try is failing, and buzz looks like another one of these. Time will tell, but for now I am not impressed.

So what's going on? Lots of cool stuff is coming out, and employee are said to have 20% of their time that they can allocate to special project, but then whatever is produced is only a half success at best. Lots of buzz that falls flat after a while. I am talking here about Google video, Google talk, Google check out, Google Lattitude, Google wave, and I suspect Google buzz.

My take on this is that Google is too fat. They make good money from ads revenue, and they are not hungry enough that they need to go to the bottom of the solution that they are offering to make them really appealing on the business side.

One exception: Google mail, which evolved into Google Apps. Clearly they have something there, a very compelling solution for businesses to handle the typical basic services like email, and doc sharing. It took a while to get here, but it is happening.

The good news for Google is that they have money, so they can buy their way into better solution. And they did get their hands on cool technologies: the most famous was YouTube as a replacement for Google video, but also Writely for Google docs, Grandcentral for Google Voice, Etherpad, Gizmo - to name a few.

So is there a lesson here that good innovation cannot by design come from the corporation after it has reach a certain size?
All teams inside are geared to optimize the delivery of their solutions, and protect their market, and even with 20% time for other things they are not in the right state of mind to create, really think outside the box to the point where it could be counter to their bespoke solutions. The people inside cannot think of the Google mothership as the enemy against which they can produce a better app.

After many years of trying to create software exclusively from the inside, Oracle went into a buying spree. And probably acquisitions are where the next hot things will come from in Google's case too. Not to say that you should not experiment, if anything to understand the issues before you go an buy something, but I do not expect too much from Google buzz to turn Google into a social networking success...

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