Monday, May 16, 2005

Google Struggles to Move Beyond Tech Roots

Not a red letter week for Google: its new Accelerator feature took heat from several quarters (Register article) for caching sensitive information (didn't we go through that already with Google Desktop?) and announced the acquisition of Dodgeball, a social networking company startup still at the "two guys in a garage stage" that provides linkups via mobile phones. Dodgeball has its followers, but as noted in the CNET News article one of the arguments for picking up the service is that its founders were "Google superfans." And this is going to help its so-so Orkut social networking service...how? Google continues to have a lot of nice pieces, but as a media property it continues to mystify. The continuing proliferation of "Beta" services with promise but only the outlines of a business plan or mature functionality at times seem to be lonely pieces adrift in a "Santa's workshop" of content development still trying to figure out how to meld into a cohesive whole. Major opportunities to position content value from sources such as weblogs and music downloads seem to have drifted by Google with little effort to distinguish these as unique content sources that require special treatment. The team at Google does seem to have a knack of stumbling onto "the new new thing" at times and hitting it big, but there's oftentimes a remarkable unwillingness to follow up on these initial "ahas" with mature services development. Google still shapes much of what publishers need to adjust to in today's content marketplace, but as more types of content find their way into platforms and channels that can package it more effectively for audiences without relying on the Google search algorithm or ad services the maturity of their marketing vision will come into focus more clearly. Would that we all had problems like Google, but they seem to be very effective at inventing new ones as of late. Just because you don't want to be just another media company doesn't mean that you need to avoid anything that smells of adult behavior.
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