A Day in the Life

A day in my life. Thoughts on leadership, management, startups, technology, software, concurrent development, etc... Basically the stuff I think about from 10am to 6pm.

6/09/2006

Peter and the Wolf

Google, Google, Google. We keep hearing about all the wonderful, half-assed products that Google keeps shipping. Most of the products don’t seem to provide any obvious revenue streams for Google. Which in one respect is part of the Web 2.0 philosophy, so good for Google. But here’s the rub. Google is no longer a startup. It is a huge public company with a reputation to protect, a reputation that is worth a LOT of money. Not just to the company but also to its shareholders.

Continuing to release unfinished products is, in my eyes, hurting Google’s reputation. People have come to expect quality from Google, Google’s search engine is perceived to be the best in the world. I can’t image life without it. But the continued release of beta software that looks more like alpha software only leaves a negative impression behind. If Google keeps this up someday they will release something new that is truly amazing and the world won’t notice.

Google needs to start managing expectations. Sales and marketing folks are always trying to manage customer expectations while convincing the prospect that their products at the best in the world. Google does not seem to be managing anything. Forbes ran an interesting article "Who’s Really Running Google?" And the author suggests that it’s a good thing that Eric Schmidt keeps a hands-off approach and I can see the value in his approach, however, just because you hired smart people to build stuff doesn’t mean that those smart people know how to build and ship products.

If building and shipping quality products was so easy people wouldn’t waste so much time complaining about Microsoft. Microsoft is a company that has been building software products for over twenty years and during that time has spent significant time and money perfecting the art of delivering products. Yet Microsoft still doesn’t get it right all the time. You may argue that Google has smarter people than Microsoft but I think you’d be wrong. Both companies have actively recruited bright people and Microsoft has been at it much longer.

When I look at the quality of Google’s recent releases, the lack of obvious revenue opportunities for many of those releases, and the fact that Blogger has been down more this week than up, I can’t help but think that someone needs to take control over there. Process is not a bad word. Project managers and Product managers are important. Maybe Google should invest in a few of those types and put some processes in place before the market place stops taking them seriously.

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