I always wondered, why Google came up with Google+ and why it shut down Google Labs (I loved its products, esp. Google Gravity et al). But after going through James Whittaker’s post about the reasons for him leaving the company, maybe I have a few answers.
Though written over a year ago, James’s post on MSDN Blogs still holds relevance today and gives the community something to ponder about – something that doesn’t seem right about Google (at least to a few). Google, in all its glory as the leading online advertisement company, suddenly realized that though it was the undisputed leader when it comes to advertisements for people, it itself knew very little about the people themselves. Facebook, on the other hand, knew a lot more about the people who decide which ad to click and which to not.
To counter this threat from Facebook, everything at Google suddenly revolved around making the world a ‘more social’ place. In simple words, more efforts were spent in knowing the people who click ads. Google + was pushed, Google Labs were shutdown, App Engine fees were raised, APIs that had been free for years were deprecated or provided for a fee, and the genius developers who were earlier hired to innovate new stuff were now working under Vic Gundotra for Google+. Some were happy about it. Some were not.
“The days of old Google hiring smart people and empowering them to invent the future was gone. The new Google knew beyond doubt what the future should look like.”
Google+, I feel, is an egoistic experiment which didn’t go down well with the users. Google today boasts of millions of registered Google+ users but how many of them actually use it at least once a day; forget about it being their primary social platform? Very few! Google+ is like a gym, where many pay the subscription, but very few really visit it!
Once, I searched for my MBA prep books having had my Google account signed in. A few days later, I receive emails about new MBA prep courses around the world. I was scared; Google was monitoring my search. It is already infamous for scanning through a user’s Gmail account and using the info for its ad purposes (remember Gmail Man?). For me, that’s an invasion of privacy and the primary reason why I am always signed out while searching on Google (Though I like Bing but I think it still has a lot of catching up to do).
Count on James Whittaker for delivering the punch line:
“The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.”
As for now, we all know where Google’s primary efforts are focused about. As an observer, it would be great to witness the ‘Old Google’ back in action with its priorities settled out sensibly.