It would be impossible to read all reviews and POVs on Google Buzz. I have not read any of them. This post is about something entirely different.
This post is about what Google Buzz symbolizes for me. Google Buzz is the ultimate evidence for the deepest fears I expressed about Google last July as I wrote in Ad Age (Why Google Voice reminds me of AT&T and Google, AT&T and the DOJ: How to avoid History’s mistakes) In these two different articles I argued that AT&T’s downfall started the moment it made the decision to dominate the information highway. Google’s march towards digital dominance seemed to be echoing that history for me and in the AT&T case it ended in divestiture. I wondered out loud whether Google headed toward the same unhappy end.
In the articles I challenged people to look at the big picture and see how similar their positions are. Many people disagreed with me. I understand why. The companies are quite different – literally speaking. But I am looking beyond the technology details to the heart and soul of the matter. The two companies are far more similar than one may expect. Their cultural context was similar and each held their company’s performance as a public trust, as a noble mission.
And this noble mission justified decisions made that were necessary to maintain brand position including creating products that served corporate needs first and customer needs second. Google Buzz is an example of this line of thinking. It so clearly serves Google’s needs first and that of end users second that only a strategy borne of dominance could have stumbled so badly.
This is why the announcement of Google Buzz is so sad for me. It marks the precise moment when Google succumbed to the mistake of creating products designed first to maintain their market dominance over creating stuff people would really need. Some future business book will peg this as the moment when the tide turned and Google lost its grove.
Nor do I think this just another corporate misstep — but this causes me to imagine (and I shudderto think of it) that in 36 months Google will begin the process of being “dismantling” either by their design or by some other mechanism. I shudder because I know the personal pain that will be caused in the “reductive” process.
The launch of Google Buzz – whether it turns out to be a good or bad product is beside the point. IMHO, it represents the end of an era for Google and beginning of a much less certain future.
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat them.”
George Santayana; B: December 16, 1863 Madrid: D: September 26, 1952, Rome; Philosopher
Postscript – I wrote this post last at night and the next morning I wake to see this article from CNET: Google gets go-ahead to buy, sell energy. ‘Nuf said.