Tuesday, October 4, 2016

What Business is Google in? Redux

Over the last eight years we have seen Google wander into businesses with great fanfare that frankly they had no core competence in. Google is in the software business, search and OS. Now they tried Nexus, and I was a buyer, early. The unit died promptly and when calling the customer service line you got Valley Speak, Silicon Valley speak. They "shared" my concern but alas when I sent the unit to the Executive I had worked with on a Presidential Panel, well, never got a reply. Google, you see, does not like people, in my opinion. It likes computers and getting them to do stuff and then getting commercial entities to ride on that stuff and pay them money.

There is a fantastic summary of "Google's Follies" in ArsTechnica which states:

Google is definitely pushing itself as a hardware company like it never has before, but this is hardly the company's first effort to get into the smartphone hardware business. The first was the Nexus One, which drew iPhone comparisons when it was launched. But low sales almost killed the brand—Eric Schmidt said in 2010 that the Nexus One “was so successful [in helping Android along], we didn’t have to do a second one”—before it was resurrected and pointed at the developer-and-enthusiast niche. The second and more serious effort began in 2011, when Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion. After clearing out the old Motorola’s product pipeline, in 2013 and 2014 the company introduced a series of high-end and midrange Moto phones that were critical darlings for their price tags, their focus on fundamentals, and their fast Android updates. These were three non-broken things that Lenovo promptly “fixed” after it bought Motorola from Google for just $2.9 billion three years later. Google made no mention of its Motorola experiment onstage today, even though the same guy who ran Motorola is now running Google’s hardware efforts. But the sense that all of this has happened before is just one of the contradictions of Google’s new mobile strategy. More importantly, the company’s actions and stated goals contradict one another, to the extent that I wonder just how committed Google is to its hardware plans and, on a related note, just how good its chances of success are.

The author however has forgotten Google Fiber, the ongoing stumble  that could clearly have been avoided by a simple conversation with folks who had done this before. Instead they follow a pure tech and then a pure sales led strategy. Unfortunately even if you can build it, and can sell it, for nothing it is a political and operational problem, expertise which seems anathema at Google.