Ronnie05's Blog

On reasons of Google’s failure to crack the Social Web

Posted in Internet and Search, Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on June 5, 2011

I was surprised to hear former Google CEO Eric Schmidt publicly lament lost opportunities and missed chances to catch Facebook the other day. However, that has quite been the trend, has it not? The biggest incumbent in a particular technology cycle has never been able to keep itself above the wave when it comes to the subsequent technology cycle. The reason may be around the fact that after a particular organization tastes grand success in a particular technology idea it only works at extending this idea further and further more. In essence, they look for product line innovations based on their mega success as against innovating the next product/Technology cycle. Thus Google in the peak of its prowess in 2004-08 failed to capitalize in the next wave of Internet: The Social Web.

There isn’t any question on the success of Google and its Search. Google democratized information single handedly and if ever there was a champion for Web 1.0,the democratized web for information and knowledge, Google would be the one. Here’s an interesting account of how Google and its contrarian philosophy was the reason of the success of its search engines while all else failed.However, being the $100 billion brand that Google is in its domain was also on contrary its biggest reason for missing out on the social web.

While there may be organization, strategy and cultural reasons for failing to identify and capitalize the next great idea, the way I see it is that when the social web started happening, the scale wasn’t “challenging” enough from Google standards. All through Facebook kept working at the Social Web and Google was counting its billions through Adwords, Adsense and other Ad based products. Not that Google was not thinking. As a pioneer of the ad-model on net, Google was outthinking a lot of others and this is manifest by the purchase of YouTube. Google has also possibly foreseen that Search led advertising would extend into Media and in years to come Google would be re-defining itself in the larger context: Media as against the smaller context: Search!

In trying to build platform extensions around its core product, Google was myopic to the web of social connections! This was not the first time in history that a market leader was missing the next technology bus. Through-out the history, mostly the large incumbents have been late to identify trends and set themselves on a new platform in time to scale it bigger and better in the future. Through out the history of Technology convergence, a single dominant player emerges in a playing field, almost uncontested — Microsoft in operating systems, Google in search, Amazon in e-commerce, Facebook in social networking. However after dominating one technology cycle these companies find difficult to dominate the next technology cycle.The way to win is to do something new and different that makes the old incumbent’s business less relevant. Facebook is possibly doing exactly that through the social web and out-lasting Google in the battle for dominance of Web 2.0!

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