Saturday, October 07, 2006

Google Puts Lid on New Products

From the LA Times:

In another sign of Google Inc.'s growth from start-up to corporate behemoth, the company's top executives said Thursday that they had begun telling engineers to stop launching so many new services and instead focus on making existing ones work together better.

Co-founder Sergey Brin is leading a companywide initiative called "Features, not products." He said the campaign started this summer when Google executives realized that myriad product releases were confusing their users.

"It's worse than that," said Brin, Google's president of technology. "It's that I was getting lost in the sheer volume of the products that we were releasing."
I couldn't agree more. The products are not integrated very well and too many are not ready for prime time when launched. Google is called the Beta Company for a reason. It is frustrating how Gmail, Google Notebook and Google Reader handle similar tasks in different ways. Why are there no labels/tags in Notebook? And don't get me started on Blogger.

But its not just Sergey and I that believe this. Check out what others are saying.

30 Things Google Should Finish:
People like to speculate on what Google should be doing. What they should be doing, with nearly 7000 employees, is actually finishing the crapload of projects they've had in "beta" for years.
In the Race With Google, It’s Consistency vs. ‘Wow’:
There are risks in each approach. Google tends to introduce a lot of new products and then watch to see what works. This has the potential to alienate users if there are too many half-baked ideas or false starts.
So Much Fanfare, So Few Hits:
"Google has product ADD. They don't know why they're getting into all of these products. They have fantastic cash flow but terrible discipline on products," says Kedrosky. "It's a dangerous combination."

Furthermore, product managers at Google tend to have less power than engineers, say several former staffers. This can contribute to slow product upgrades, since most engineers want to work on the next big launch.
Is google love getting out of hand?:
What drives this kind of blind enthusiasm? When is the last time Google released a product that really changed our lives? For me, it was (and is) their core search engine. I grant that Google Maps pushed the envelope and forced the other big Internet guys to improve their own offerings (but today Microsoft and Yahoo are both significantly better than Google). And I do appreciate the POP access to Gmail (this was the one thing that converted me from hotmail for personal email). Everything since has been, well, somewhat underwhelming.
Yet this doesn't stop others from listing 10 products that Google should develop.

1 comment:

Nipun said...

Couldn't agree more.

However, I find it interesting how Google manages innovation within their doors -- give engineers 20% time off, work in a relatively flat hierarchy, and what not. Of all the $135 billion dollar companies, Google has been the best at being innovative and on the cutting edge. Even when they go in for deal, they're super quick -- Yahoo went for MySpace advertising, AOL lock-up, and YouTube and Google came in afterwards and locked it up in no time. So they've got that going for them. :)

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