Opinion

Searching for the real Google

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on January 23, 2018

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The giant faces an unacknowledged evolutionary crisis

Is Google facing an identity crisis? Of late, Google has become a many-in-one enterprise. Yet, it doesn’t have the characteristics of a traditional conglomerate with solid verticals. One can easily read a crisis in its evolutionary pathway.

Interestingly, the organisational rejig comes just days after it decided to disconnect its social media platform Google Plus from its other services such as YouTube. Google Plus has been a failure.

Many expect Google to log out this service soon, like it did with Google Buzz. A report by Stone Temple Consulting says only less than 1 per cent of the total 2.2 billion users on Google are actively participating on Google+ now. Facebook has outwitted Google in the social media game.

Another much-hyped experiment, Google Glass, is also broken. The driverless cars it has been experimenting with for a while is taking time to mature. And Google’s R&D efforts, from elevators to space to drugs, are still on.

The Google Chrome operating system, another hyped product, is also not making headway. This, despite the fact that rival Microsoft’s Windows is still struggling to innovate itself and open source platforms such as Ubuntu are still not gaining the traction they deserve.

Its handset business may be doing reasonably well, but the scene’s not great. In fact, the Nexus smartphones are reeling from their fight with cheaper rivals from China that have been flooding markets. Google’s most successful product now, Android, was not its own creation: it bought Android in 2005, and its success is mostly indebted to the open source community. Even today ‘search’ forms the core of Google’s business.

Google has a focus problem. Hopefully, the creation of a parent company, Alphabet, will help clear this confusion.

But does Google’s leadership recognise the problem? From the looks of it, it seems it doesn’t. Nor do investors and the media. That doesn’t augur well for Google or its consumers. Google must focus on harnessing the best resource it has: data. This can be transformed into a solid revenue stream for the future.

Senior Assistant Editor

Published on August 14, 2015

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