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'So Much Fanfare, So Few Hits': Google's Non-search Products

     
10:10 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Rivals get the jitters when Google's nonsearch products grab headlines. But a close look shows that so far, there's not a market leader among them.

So Much Fanfare, So Few Hits [businessweek.com]

Nice assessment from BusinessWeek on Google's product record. It looks like we're all whipped up into a frenzy with every Google launch.

10:13 am on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, the so called spread sheet that you can't even chart with. That was all hype.

This Google Checkout though looks pretty killer, though.

10:19 am on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Even with the search Google was a latecomer to the party, but they marched ahead of their rivals silently and now others are trying to beat them at their own game.

I suspect that atleast some of those new Google launches might steal the marketshare.

But Yeah... as LinkedIn CEO rightly said sometime back, Google is definetly not the best at eveything... smaller companies can be more innovative and bring out better products and services.

Just My $0.02

10:36 am on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Gmail will kill Yahoo Mail

Google Checkout will kill Paypal

11:01 am on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I sincerely hope Google doesn't kill the other web companies
11:17 am on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Not at all likely; unlike some companies, they've always seemed happy to co-exist; I don't think they have a monopoly world view at all.

As for their ideas, adsense revolutionized the web (for good or ill!) and made them a few dollars.

Gmail has made webmail respectable, and its anti-phisher program is the best out there, the anti-spam is streets ahead of Y! and M$N - Does it make money? Who knows.

The spreadsheet is very new, lets not write it off. Particularly as it already does more than I'll ever need. For free. Bring on the word processor ...

Checkout will succeed; no doubt about it. Like Paypal, it will have its problems, and its knockers, but it will help to keep paypal honest and competitive. which is good. There's room for two, but it's very, very early days; they'll need there own federal license, and they'll need to go international - but with a killer adwords deal, and the amount of good will that Google has, they will not fail.

The business press always want something now; they have zero faith in the long term. Which is why they so often get it wrong. Google is planting seeds all over; even if half of them fail, Google still has a bright future.

11:46 am on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I think the editorial's slant misses the point of being in business. Somehow, the writer equates not capturing the #1 position as something to talk about for Google. Personally, capturing a notable and measurable market share in any business venture is an accomplishment.

I remember a television special on an emerging Wine Cooler Company. The interview was held on one the company’s owners yacht. The owner humbly stated he never knew how big just 1% of the market share was.

12:17 pm on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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--It looks like we're all whipped up into a frenzy with every Google launch. --

It's very curious how the media gets so enamoured with companies that have only had maybe one or two hit products, it's very much like bands that get invited onto every talk show after they've only had one hit song.

I'd say the same applies to Apple, they have very little profit-wise to show for themselves apart from the iPod yet the media seems to hang on every word they say. The Mac computer continues to have a negligible market share, and even the much-hyped iTunes Music Store only sells the average iPod owner maybe one or two albums a year.

And before any Apple fans get annoyed, you could also say the same about Microsoft and Windows, the only major source of profits they've ever had is the OS. The Xbox has a very high profile, but even after profits from games it still loses MS literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year and would never be able to exist without the cash they get from Windows.

1:03 pm on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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As far as Google goes, everyone gets whipped up into a frenzy because of how much Google is putting out. It's the pace that gets attention. If they have a 1 in 20 product success rate (meaning a product that is as profitable as Adwords), they'll have a new hit about every other year.

The fact they can pull off the shotgun approach and each product is always half-decent is astounding.

they have very little profit-wise to show for themselves apart from the iPod

The $4.1 billion cash reserve Apple [macobserver.com] had already amassed in 2001 certainly would suggest the iPod is not their first profit center.

Microsoft and Windows, the only major source of profits they've ever had is the OS

Microsoft's cash cows have and continue to be Windows *and* Office [news.zdnet.com].

1:24 pm on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Frenzy?

What frenzy?

Google is a big innovator, and a big earner. So it gets a fair bit of attention.

Even in these forums, the number of threads devoted to 'what Google is doing' as opposed to what webmasters are doing, is very, very small indeed; sadly, most of the good stuff in Google Labs [labs.google.com] is ignored ;)

2:22 pm on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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--As far as Google goes, everyone gets whipped up into a frenzy because of how much Google is putting out. It's the pace that gets attention. If they have a 1 in 20 product success rate (meaning a product that is as profitable as Adwords), they'll have a new hit about every other year.--

But so far Google's only hit has been Search.

I'm not going to buy into this "they only need 1 in 20" until they get more than one big hit... :-)

--The fact they can pull off the shotgun approach and each product is always half-decent is astounding.--

It doesn't ultimately matter how good a product is, it's about how well it brings in profits, and so far they're only really making profits from Google Search.

If Google were a developer-for-hire, then yes it would be astounding, but they're only working for themselves so it all comes down to whether their products get the $$$ rolling in. I think Gmail is the best webmail client out there and recommend it to friends and family, but it's still way behind its rivals in terms of actual market share and profits.

--The $4.1 billion cash reserve Apple had already amassed in 2001 certainly would suggest the iPod is not their first profit center.--

That's cash rather than profits. Right now, most of Apple's profits come from iPods and iPod-related products.

Companies don't get talked about in hushed tones because they have cash reserves, they get talked about because they provide products or services that people want to buy, and at the moment the only market-dominating product made by Apple is the iPod.

--Microsoft's cash cows have and continue to be Windows *and* Office.--

Fair enough, although Windows provides them with most of their profits. And it's probably more significant that they provide 90% of OSes than that they provide 90% of word processing and spreadsheet applications. Did anyone talk about WordPerfect as a major player during their glory days? It's easy for a user to convert files from Office to work on a rival software package, but almost impossible to convert Windows software to work on a rival OS.

4:44 pm on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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That's cash rather than profits.

I wonder how they got that cash if it wasn't from profits? ;)

I won't argue that the iPod isn't a huge part of Apple's business right now, but to say that this is their first success belies history. Of course, this is a thread about why people talk about Google... so we've perhaps moved on too great a tangent. :)

But so far Google's only hit has been Search.

Search wasn't profitable for years. Adwords was the breakout for Google. I won't be surprised if many of the products birthed by Google in the last 18 months incubate into major successes. I think part of the "wow" factor is that potential.

5:06 pm on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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But so far Google's only hit has been Search.

AdWords? AdSense?

And yes, even Gmail is a hit. Acccording to the article they have 1/4 the number of users that MSN and Yahoo have. For much of the life of Gmail, they were invite only, so can you really count that time when considering the age of the product?

And almost all Gmail users still have at least one or more lilye multiple accounts with the other services that currently are mostly collecting spam.

So given the age of Gmail and the fact that users ared loath to change emila addresses, I would call it an unqualified hit! Is it's market share increasing? It sure looks that way to me, and that is all a company can ask for.

Firefox isn't the #1 browser, but I would certainly define it as a "hit" given it's growth rate. The same goes for any Google product that has a decent growth rate.

Then there is Google Earth, which is quite a hit in the small market that they serve. I doubt that it will make them much money, but it is a very useful tool.

The same goes for Picasa.

No, they aren't going to have a hit with everything, and I don't think they expected to. But I think there are a lot more "hits" in their lineup than this latest pack of articles seem to give them credit for.

9:40 pm on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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At the end of the day, Google has to make money off there pet projects. Have we all forgotten the 90's?
11:57 pm on June 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Even with the search Google was a latecomer to the party, but they marched ahead of their rivals silently and now others are trying to beat them at their own game.

True, G was a latecomer to the party. But their competition wasn't that good. The businesses that G is entering into now have much more experience as well as sizable footprints. Personally, I wish they'd invest more time in search.

3:17 pm on July 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

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At the end of the day, Google has to make money off there pet projects. Have we all forgotten the 90's?

Actually, at the end of the day, Google has to make money. It's irrelevant if some parts are not profitable if the whole is making money hand over fist.

Perhaps related, John Battelle made the point at the keynote he made at pubcon in New Orleans that a public company with an insanely profitable division can use unprofitable divisions as a way to help control stock price fluctuations. Of course, he was talking about Microsoft, but the concept could still apply.

10:33 pm on July 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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AdWords? AdSense?

Well, both have been quite lucrative (up to now). They have some dark clouds hanging over them, especially the latter (click fraud, MFA).

9:58 am on July 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I would be happy with just a fraction of any of Google's "flaps". Lol

One aspect that seems forgotten in the story is that all the fanfare that goes with every Google products has a meaning beyond the product quality and/or innovation:

Google has PR value. (Public Relation, in this case) The simple word "Google" is newsworthy. The news guys know that anytime they get to write something with the name "Google" on it, it will get published, and they will get a check for it.

So every time Google suggest they may be doing something, there are hundreds of guys ready to jump on it.