Tag Archives: Search

Google’s path is the right one. It’s just going to hurt

Sarah Lacy

Now, a source tells us that CEO Larry Page, who seems to be hell-bent on competing with Mark Zuckerberg whether it’s the right thing for Google or not, had this to say to employees at a Friday staff event after the Search Plus Your World launch: “This is the path we’re headed down – a single unified, ‘beautiful’ product across everything. If you don’t get that, then you should probably work somewhere else.” 

Page, for better or worse, has realised the lesson that Apple has been teaching: an integrated, focused, well-designed product will always stand a better chance of success than a product which is looser, less focused, but more “open”.

What I’m fascinated about is how this new direction will impact on Android – does that “across everything” include mobile devices? 

I think it does. I fully expect the Galaxy Nexus to be the last “Google Experience” phone produced by anyone other than Motorola. I also expect Google to start having its own range of pure Google Experience phones, rather than just a single device.

In other words, Google is going to start controlling Android more tightly by stealth: it will sell the best phones, with rapid, regular updates that its erstwhile-partners can’t match. Within a few years, I fully expect Motorola to have overtaken Samsung as the number one Android vendor. And, what’s more, I wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung hadn’t forked Android and ended up producing its own Samsung-only variant, with its own App Store.

Idiot post of the day – The Roundup

I’ll keep updating this one as and when they come in. And boy, are they coming in. With the honourable exception of David Pogue, everyone seems to have lost all their critical faculties, journalistic skills, and in some cases basic ability to write English sentences which parse.

First up, Max Tatton-Brown, in his post entitled “Why the Nexus One is not ‘just another Android phone’“, which he begins with:

“Okay, let’s make this clear: The Nexus is just another Android phone.”

It isn’t just another Android phone. But then it is! OK. But it’s from Google, and they play a canny, long-term game which leads to success:

“Furthermore, Google are notorious long-game thinkers. They gradually manoeuvre their way around the industry, insidiously implanting the importance of their products into your everyday lifestyle. It’s viral. For example, Wave. I’m not writing this on Wave, therefore many will be eyeing it up as a bit of a flop. Nonsense, look at the next few years and then we’ll talk.”

Yeah, they’re great at the longterm. I mean look at the success of Lively. Or how they’ve defeated Twitter with Jaiku. And how Orkut has beaten off on the threat of Facebook. Google Video was so successful that who remembers YouTube? Google Notebook is now where everyone stores their notes.

And I’m still playing Dodgeball.

Meanwhile, even the BBC is getting caught up. Maggie Shiels begins her post with:

“Google has said it is defending its online advertising empire with the launch of its own brand mobile phone.”

She then goes on to quote not one but SIX people to confirm this.

Only one problem: None of them work for Google. I haven’t read a single quote from anyone at Google saying it is selling the Nexus One to defend its ad empire. Certainly, there is no such quote on this story.

When I was writing news, my editor would have knocked seven shades of shit out of me for saying that someone said X without a direct quote which said X, preferably in the next paragraph.

More idiocy, no doubt, to follow. I’ll just update this post shall I?

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Sly Bailey isn’t attacking Google, she’s attacking boring “me-too” news

Sly Bailey of Trinity Mirror is probably going to get some stick from the usual suspects for what looks, at face value, to be another “Google is evul” attack:

“Or worse, they may visit an aggregator like Google News, browse a digital deli of expensive-to-produce news from around the world, and then click on an ad served up to them by Google. For which we get no return. By the absurd relentless chasing of unique user figures we are flag-waving our way out of business.”

In fact, what Bailey says makes a lot of sense when you remember the oft-forgotten fact about newspapers: as I’ve noted before, publishers are in the ad sales business, not the content sales business.

Content is the honey that draws the audience, and at the moment, Google is creaming off the people who are most-likely to respond at an ad at the point of search. The remaining traffic – if it is amenable to ads at all – is poor quality prospects. Google is a competitor as well as a source of traffic, and it’s an open question whether that traffic is high quality enough to be worth having.

What’s interesting is that Bailey doesn’t stop there, but actually puts forward a positive way that publishers can take a step forward – and it doesn’t revolve around cutting Google out of the equation.

“She called for a change to the accepted norms, arguing that publishers could ‘reverse the erosion of value in news content’ by rejecting a relentless quest for high user numbers, in favour of a move away from ‘generalised packages of news’ to instead concentrate on content with ‘unique and intrinsic value’.”

That sounds to me like Bailey is suggesting a strategy of less “me too” news stories and more attempts to make unique, insightful content – something that I think is a great idea. At the moment, the top story on Google News concerns the US journalist sentenced to gaol in Iran – and there are 1238 different publications writing about it, worldwide. How many of those get more than a tiny fraction of traffic from Google? How much of it is the kind of quality traffic – ie, traffic which will click on ads – that publishers care about?

In a sense, publishers obsession with number’s of page views reminds me of the race for users that most Web 2.0 start-ups have gone through. In both cases, it’s a question of “page views first, business model second” – and in both cases, that is a recipe for expenses without revenue. Which, in current vogue speech, is a case of businessfail.

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