Google: The Game Plan

December 23, 2022

I read “You Have Reached Your Destination: Google Elegantly Says Goodbye to Waze.” I was thinking that a better title may have suggested that Google has displayed its strategic ways. Not to be.

The article recycles a familiar story. Think Dodgeball. Buy a product. Big opportunities exist with other services that Google wants to “put wood behind.” The future is elsewhere. Hasta la vista “old stuff” for pastures whose harvesting delivers more compensation, influence, and bonus bucks.

Google recycles its hasta la vista language. The article quotes some:

Waze will continue to operate under a separate application and brand. “Google remains deeply committed to Waze’s unique brand, its beloved app and its thriving community of volunteers and users,” the company said in a statement.

Hello, interns and new hires. Work on Waze. Look for something hot like the new moon shot to solve death, for example.

The article suggests what’s behind Google’s buy, ignore, milk, and let die products and services:

Google, instead of seeing Waze as a brand to be nurtured and promoted, treated it as an incubator of ideas that should be exploited. “Every idea we had was quickly adopted by Google Maps,” he wrote. Nor did the company use its vast resources to attract new users to Waze.

Interesting. Same old song.

The reality is that Google struggles, in my opinion, to come to grips with these issues:

  1. Ad revenue is the goal. Products and services which do not deliver Google scale payoffs are doomed unless the service is a fave of senior management or part of an initiative to kill off Amazon, Microsoft, and others deemed to be non-Googley
  2. Incentives affect products. When services don’t change or are lousy, the engineers able to make a difference are working on more lucrative opportunities for themselves. How’s that search working for you? What about that Gmail interface? Great, right?
  3. Google’s senior management is not sure how to reduce costs, amp up revenue, innovate, and avoid getting crushed with administrivia like personnel issues, government regulation, and ageing infrastructure.

Net net: Send Waze down the Orkut path is easy and part of the so-called culture of the GOOG.  There’s nothing fancy, subtle, or complex in what Google does as it faces increasing internal and external pressure.

It’s high school science club management methods in action.

Stephen E Arnold, December 23, 2022


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