Is Google Failing Too Often?

I think Google is extremely successful, but they do seem to consistently have problems adding to their portfolio. They did a great job with gmail. Android has been very successful. Google Maps is great. They did well building YouTube. Chrome is very nice. Automatic translation is very nice (as is the integration with Chrome).

But so many things just don’t go anywhere. I can’t understand why they can’t take something like Google checkout and make it much more successful (there is money even Google cares about waiting for success in this area). Grand Central was great – Google Voice has not built that the way I would hope. Google has an endless stream of very small companies they buy and then the service dies.

It has been long enough now that I am starting to feel more comfortable saying Google is not doing a good job of creating and building new products. There are a few successes. And having failures isn’t a huge deal – taking risks is wise. But they just seem to be succeeding far to little, especially when you look at the talent and resources they have. Of course, some will say the resources they have is a problem. I really think it is more along the lines I see you mentioning above – they have become too rigid in development. I actually support more standardization than maybe people want (there can be big benefits) but I believe you need to then allow for exceptions. It seems to me Google doesn’t allow enough. It is tempting for managers to want to duplicate the same style that has made adwords and search successful. That might not be the answer for every project though.

They also seem to be driving away to many people with a rigid adherence to proving every little thing. Now I think some of this is a significant part of Google’s success. The trick is not to throw out all such efforts, but to find ways to gain the benefits without crushing innovative people’s will to continue.

I continue to own stock in Google and believe the future is very promising. Google does far more right than they do wrong, but they have room to improve.

Related: Why Google can’t build InstagramObservations of a New GooglerGreat Marissa Mayer Webcast on Google InnovationGoogle: Ten Golden RulesEric Schmidt on Management at Google

Goodbye, Google, Douglas Bowman

Yes, it’s true that a team at Google couldn’t decide between two blues, so they’re testing 41 shades between each blue to see which one performs better. I had a recent debate over whether a border should be 3, 4 or 5 pixels wide, and was asked to prove my case. I can’t operate in an environment like that. I’ve grown tired of debating such minuscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle.

Why I quit Google to join Facebook: Lars Rasmussen

[on Google Wave] “It takes a while for something new and different to find its footing and I think Google was just not patient.”

“A good part of the reason I’m going there [facebook] is that there are particular folks who worked at Google before who I loved working with and who are there now and that’s very attractive,”
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5 Responses to Is Google Failing Too Often?

  1. Jonathan says:

    Nice piece, we were discussing this the other day. The conclusion was that it’s kind of easy to see where projects have been developed by different teams and where the development kind of ended. Specifically the alerts system. The interface is horrible and a plain “click to manage existing alerts” link has been stuck like that for months.

    Google trends is massively useful data but again, it is buried…

  2. Yu Yu Din says:

    I think Google is reaching a certain saturation point. It’s a big challenge to be constantly innovative. A lot of big names also quit Google in 2010. I’m sure there are repercussions internally. In India, they’re throwing money at people to retain talent. I was expecting something new and innovative to retain talent instead of doing what every other tech company is doing. Google still has it’s charm though – it still holds true to the original vision of the founders and the company culture inside is still great. It’s a great case study for HR pros.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I agree, it’s amazing to see such a huge and successful company take great ideas and then just leave them behind. What happened to Google Wave? And why didn’t SideWiki catch on? Good stuff, but I guess they didn’t figure out how to squeeze money out of it..

  4. Anonymous says:

    Give Google some time! Android, Chrome, Maps, Translation… They were released for the past few years. That’s a great job, you can’t deny it. I’m sure that Google has few new projects, but as Google Voice after releasing they will be half-done. And that’s NORMAL. You judge too quickly.

  5. Galina says:

    I am very impressed with Google. This is a very big company that is developing rapidly. Their services are interesting and need a lot of people on earth. I hope soon their social network google plus + complete testing and begin to work as a competitive social network in the world. Maybe with time google plus + will have chances to beat Facebook. I think Google does not make mistakes too often. In all large companies there are many areas of work, so mistakes and problems will also be plenty.

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