Where was Google?

Thinking back on the last two days of Gnomedex and I am wondering “where was Google?” I don’t remember meeting a Google employee (I just looked through my stack of more than a hundred business cards and didn’t find one from Google).

But, yet, Google was the talk of the conference. A Yahoo employee even said “Google me” which got everyone to laugh.

This is a huge shift, though. Three years ago at Gnomedex Google was all over the place. It sponsored a party at Gnomedex and had lots of employees and recruiters there. And they had — by far — the coolest swag.

But at 2006 Gnomedex? Not a thing. Not a logo. Not an employee.

It’s interesting. Google is willing to hire away Microsoft executives for millions of dollars. One just this week (Vic Gundotra will probably run their developer network).

The problem is that people are starting to notice that Google gets the hype, but isn’t getting adoption (read an interesting BusinessWeek article that makes the same point). And don’t you think for one moment that telling your story isn’t important.

Even Google senses something wrong. Watch Seth Godin presenting at Google and listen to a Google employee wondering why Google Maps isn’t getting better market share numbers in areas other than search. (That part is at 43:13).

Well, you aren’t going to get better market share numbers by not showing up to influential computer conferences (Gnomedex isn’t the first one I’ve noticed Google not showing up to, either — I don’t remember seeing them at IT@Cork. I don’t remember seeing them at Reboot. Both conferences that had lots of developers).

What’s funny is that Vic will show up at those same conferences in a year after he comes off his “vacation” and will ask developers and geeks and bloggers and influentials to get excited about Google’s latest stuff.

My point then will be “sorry, we’ve already switched to Yahoo and Microsoft (or, RawSugar or TagJag — both of which are working to build new search experiences that the big companies aren’t willing to do) cause they came to Gnomedex and showed us some cool stuff and listened to us about how to improve it.”

One of the best sessions at the conference was when three venture capitalists gave feedback about TagJag (and the audience jumped in offering often harsh commentary and quite a few really great ideas).

See, this is what Google did so well in the early days: it learned from its users and set a “cool and trustworthy tone” by showing up to small events and listening to users. Matt Cutts of Google, for instance, is the best at this — he builds relationships at search engine conferences. I got a chance to follow him around earlier this year and he met with dozens of SEO experts and picked their brains and got tons of ideas about how to improve their spam-detection algorithms. He also, by being there, told everyone “you, and what you do, is important.”

I guess Google doesn’t think the Gnomedex audience is important anymore. Yet when I walked around the room I kept seeing Google being used all over the place.

That’s not a good message to send and it will come around to haunt them. Vic, you have your work cut out — so enjoy your year off!

Update: a friend noted that Steve Ballmer didn’t show up either, although Yahoo, Ask.com, and Microsoft were sponsors of Gnomedex.

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74 thoughts on “Where was Google?

  1. Sorry to say, but google maps is no where close to local.live.com. I say my customers local.live, and their mouth drops. The same does not happen with google’s maps. As for google’s search, I find they don’t give alot of relevant information compaired to search.live.com.

    Thanks Robert for the update.

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  2. Sorry to say, but google maps is no where close to local.live.com. I say my customers local.live, and their mouth drops. The same does not happen with google’s maps. As for google’s search, I find they don’t give alot of relevant information compaired to search.live.com.

    Thanks Robert for the update.

    Like

  3. I’m not sure why Google wasn’t involved as a sponsor, but I work for Google and I was there. I probably should have said hi at some point, but I’m really a programmer and a sysadmin, and I’m not exactly aiming to be the public face of Google :-). I was at Gnomedex for myself, not for my employer.

    Of course, the fact that there was one solitary Google employee lurking in the back doesn’t really change your point–we need to do a much better job at talking to people and being more open.

    Unfortunately, the only part of the company that I’ve seen that is really involved in conferences on a regular basis is the recruiting department, and they would have sent *entirely* the wrong message at Gnomedex.

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  4. I’m not sure why Google wasn’t involved as a sponsor, but I work for Google and I was there. I probably should have said hi at some point, but I’m really a programmer and a sysadmin, and I’m not exactly aiming to be the public face of Google :-). I was at Gnomedex for myself, not for my employer.

    Of course, the fact that there was one solitary Google employee lurking in the back doesn’t really change your point–we need to do a much better job at talking to people and being more open.

    Unfortunately, the only part of the company that I’ve seen that is really involved in conferences on a regular basis is the recruiting department, and they would have sent *entirely* the wrong message at Gnomedex.

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  5. “Google gets the hype, but isn’t getting adoption”.
    Well, I have a (very) personal opinion about this, and I disagree.

    Hmmm… I was there when HP decided to enter the digital camera business. The goal was not to lead the segment… not even to make a great deal of money. The goal was to drive HP ink sales used in photo printing, because, that’s where the money comes from.

    Now Google’s goal is to feed AdSense, because that’s where the money is. Checkout is not really designed to compete with PayPal, it’s design to gather data about buying habits in order to further customize the ads you get. Google Notebook is created so the user can provide the contextual information for the data. The same is true for other google products, they are informaton gathering tools.

    So, even if a small fraction uses them, it’s good, because the goal is not to lead in each segment.

    I could be wrong. But it kinda makes sense to me.
    =)

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  6. “Google gets the hype, but isn’t getting adoption”.
    Well, I have a (very) personal opinion about this, and I disagree.

    Hmmm… I was there when HP decided to enter the digital camera business. The goal was not to lead the segment… not even to make a great deal of money. The goal was to drive HP ink sales used in photo printing, because, that’s where the money comes from.

    Now Google’s goal is to feed AdSense, because that’s where the money is. Checkout is not really designed to compete with PayPal, it’s design to gather data about buying habits in order to further customize the ads you get. Google Notebook is created so the user can provide the contextual information for the data. The same is true for other google products, they are informaton gathering tools.

    So, even if a small fraction uses them, it’s good, because the goal is not to lead in each segment.

    I could be wrong. But it kinda makes sense to me.
    =)

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  7. Pingback: Anonymous
  8. Scott: good point. Well, we’ll be watching your market share numbers and seeing who has the best ones over time. Tech connectors have certainly given Google a big run up. It’ll be interesting to see if we continue to do so when they don’t come out and hang out and show us the latest, coolest, stuff.

    I guess Google’s PR and marketing departments assume that everyone will just try stuff because it’s on TechMeme or TechCrunch or Digg. I find that’s absolutely not the case, particularly when I have a folder of about 5,500 things to try out (literally, soon I’ll show you that folder and talk about it).

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  9. Scott: good point. Well, we’ll be watching your market share numbers and seeing who has the best ones over time. Tech connectors have certainly given Google a big run up. It’ll be interesting to see if we continue to do so when they don’t come out and hang out and show us the latest, coolest, stuff.

    I guess Google’s PR and marketing departments assume that everyone will just try stuff because it’s on TechMeme or TechCrunch or Digg. I find that’s absolutely not the case, particularly when I have a folder of about 5,500 things to try out (literally, soon I’ll show you that folder and talk about it).

    Like

  10. Google is going to have trouble in the future with all of these marginal ideas. The BusinessWeek article said the same thing — the problem is not that these ideas are failing, but that they just aren’t gaining very much traction at all. I wrote a blog about this about a month ago called The technology graveyard is littered with Google ideas. Google will struggle with when to cut off ideas that are mildly successful — and will have to re-route developers to work on more profitable ideas. My hypothesis is that this cutting off and rerouting of developers at Google will eventually create a startup culture of ex-Googlers who realize that their ideas at Google can be profitable — just not on the scale that Google needs them to be. These developers will then leave Google and create startups that do similar things and are profitable. Should be interesting to watch!

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  11. Google is going to have trouble in the future with all of these marginal ideas. The BusinessWeek article said the same thing — the problem is not that these ideas are failing, but that they just aren’t gaining very much traction at all. I wrote a blog about this about a month ago called The technology graveyard is littered with Google ideas. Google will struggle with when to cut off ideas that are mildly successful — and will have to re-route developers to work on more profitable ideas. My hypothesis is that this cutting off and rerouting of developers at Google will eventually create a startup culture of ex-Googlers who realize that their ideas at Google can be profitable — just not on the scale that Google needs them to be. These developers will then leave Google and create startups that do similar things and are profitable. Should be interesting to watch!

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  12. SlashChick: it’s hard to get traction when you don’t come out and SHOW us your ideas. Totally agree, with your thesis, though.

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  13. SlashChick: it’s hard to get traction when you don’t come out and SHOW us your ideas. Totally agree, with your thesis, though.

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  14. Fair question. Chris never mentioned getting anyone from Google to Gnomedex to me; maybe I’ll drop him an email–I needed to talk to him about something else anyway. I know Nelson Minar always enjoyed talking to folks at Gnomedex, even back when it was in Des Moines:
    http://gnomedex3.blogspot.com/2003_07_01_gnomedex3_archive.html#105915285542240413

    The down side of sending software engineers to conferences (which I think is a great idea, because the discussions can be much more detailed) is that those engineers also have a lot of work/coding to do, so sometimes it’s harder for an active engineer to carve out time for conferences.

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  15. Fair question. Chris never mentioned getting anyone from Google to Gnomedex to me; maybe I’ll drop him an email–I needed to talk to him about something else anyway. I know Nelson Minar always enjoyed talking to folks at Gnomedex, even back when it was in Des Moines:
    http://gnomedex3.blogspot.com/2003_07_01_gnomedex3_archive.html#105915285542240413

    The down side of sending software engineers to conferences (which I think is a great idea, because the discussions can be much more detailed) is that those engineers also have a lot of work/coding to do, so sometimes it’s harder for an active engineer to carve out time for conferences.

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  16. The down side of sending software engineers to conferences … is that those engineers also have a lot of work/coding to do

    You have to be kidding Matt–how can Google engineers be busier than those at Microsoft or Yahoo, or especially those of us at tiny startups? For us Gnomedex was easily worth 5-10x the cost to meet the other attendees, to show our stuff of course, but more importantly to see what they’re working on and being part of the conversation.

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  17. The down side of sending software engineers to conferences … is that those engineers also have a lot of work/coding to do

    You have to be kidding Matt–how can Google engineers be busier than those at Microsoft or Yahoo, or especially those of us at tiny startups? For us Gnomedex was easily worth 5-10x the cost to meet the other attendees, to show our stuff of course, but more importantly to see what they’re working on and being part of the conversation.

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  18. This whole piece sounds like Scoble doing damage control after yet another Microsoft-to-Google hire.

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  19. Boo-hoo, Google isn’t kissing up to your self-declared group of “connectors”.

    There are plenty of companies that have been succesful working outside your self-important bunch — case in point, Apple.

    Since when did kissing your ass take priority over fostering a culture of innovation? I’d take Google’s problems anyday over the problems facing Microsoft and Yahoo!

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  20. Boo-hoo, Google isn’t kissing up to your self-declared group of “connectors”.

    There are plenty of companies that have been succesful working outside your self-important bunch — case in point, Apple.

    Since when did kissing your ass take priority over fostering a culture of innovation? I’d take Google’s problems anyday over the problems facing Microsoft and Yahoo!

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  21. Hi BillSaysThis, I’m glad that RawSugar got good exposure at Gnomedex this year; it sounds like it was also valuable for the face-to-face time with other smart folks.

    I’m just speaking from my experience at Google, which may not be as typical. I’ve got a regular full-time job, and going to conferences puts me behind on projects and email. So I (reluctantly) have to limit myself to 5-6 conferences a year.

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  22. Hi BillSaysThis, I’m glad that RawSugar got good exposure at Gnomedex this year; it sounds like it was also valuable for the face-to-face time with other smart folks.

    I’m just speaking from my experience at Google, which may not be as typical. I’ve got a regular full-time job, and going to conferences puts me behind on projects and email. So I (reluctantly) have to limit myself to 5-6 conferences a year.

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  23. I could imagine the mock love/hate relationship that Chris has with Google might make them a bit wary.

    The comes across when reading his blogs and listening to his podcasts, where Chris rants about how bad Blogspot is, how Google sabotaged Gada.be by banning them after 9000 unique visitors, how he went cold turkey on all Google services for a while, how AdSense isn’t transparent, how they are “becoming far more evil than Microsoft ever was,” etc, etc, etc.

    Now as anyone who knows Chris will say, half the time he isn’t serious and will likely change his mind later anyway, but I can imagine these attitudes make a now established and respectable Google, who have a lot to lose by association with negative commentary (in the old days they didn’t have much to lose by associating with all and sundry), a bit wary.

    Plus, Microsoft is a very prominent sponsor of everything Chris does, and there is a distinct sense that his opinions and allegiances are for sale.

    Gnomedex is an excellent vehicle for the industry’s bit players to come together, but it does echo very strongly the Chris Pirillo view of things.

    By the way, Robert, you probably should disclose that Chris is a close personal friend of yours, and that you’re not exactly unbiased in your commentary here!

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  24. I could imagine the mock love/hate relationship that Chris has with Google might make them a bit wary.

    The comes across when reading his blogs and listening to his podcasts, where Chris rants about how bad Blogspot is, how Google sabotaged Gada.be by banning them after 9000 unique visitors, how he went cold turkey on all Google services for a while, how AdSense isn’t transparent, how they are “becoming far more evil than Microsoft ever was,” etc, etc, etc.

    Now as anyone who knows Chris will say, half the time he isn’t serious and will likely change his mind later anyway, but I can imagine these attitudes make a now established and respectable Google, who have a lot to lose by association with negative commentary (in the old days they didn’t have much to lose by associating with all and sundry), a bit wary.

    Plus, Microsoft is a very prominent sponsor of everything Chris does, and there is a distinct sense that his opinions and allegiances are for sale.

    Gnomedex is an excellent vehicle for the industry’s bit players to come together, but it does echo very strongly the Chris Pirillo view of things.

    By the way, Robert, you probably should disclose that Chris is a close personal friend of yours, and that you’re not exactly unbiased in your commentary here!

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  25. Recruiting opportunity? Yes. Would I have liked to hear the Google perspective to the issues discussed? Sure.

    But Gnomedex seems to be less representative of Google’s target market that was the case a few years ago. Similar to the issue discussed during the MVP and bitch sessions, where geeks need to spend more time listening to normal humans and less time basing our ideas on conversations with other geeks (unless geeks are the target market, or we’re talking about the technology or implementation behind what we’re building).

    Could the shift you’re seeing be more about their target changing to a broader, less technical audience? I think so.

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  26. Recruiting opportunity? Yes. Would I have liked to hear the Google perspective to the issues discussed? Sure.

    But Gnomedex seems to be less representative of Google’s target market that was the case a few years ago. Similar to the issue discussed during the MVP and bitch sessions, where geeks need to spend more time listening to normal humans and less time basing our ideas on conversations with other geeks (unless geeks are the target market, or we’re talking about the technology or implementation behind what we’re building).

    Could the shift you’re seeing be more about their target changing to a broader, less technical audience? I think so.

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  27. Robert- Please file Foundd.com next to TagJag in your folder of 5,500 things. Here’s the pitch:

    Foundd is a search engine front end that gives you fast access to a number of sites: Google, MSN, Technorati, Amazon, del.icio.us, Rollyo, etc. You tell it what you use, and it wires them in.

    It also has a place where you can drag-and-drop interesting pages and links. These become part of your search results.

    I wish I had time to conference. I /do/ have a killer Westfalia camper that I want to geek-out for code-on-the-road trips. Maybe I’ll see you soon. Cheers- Sid

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  28. Robert- Please file Foundd.com next to TagJag in your folder of 5,500 things. Here’s the pitch:

    Foundd is a search engine front end that gives you fast access to a number of sites: Google, MSN, Technorati, Amazon, del.icio.us, Rollyo, etc. You tell it what you use, and it wires them in.

    It also has a place where you can drag-and-drop interesting pages and links. These become part of your search results.

    I wish I had time to conference. I /do/ have a killer Westfalia camper that I want to geek-out for code-on-the-road trips. Maybe I’ll see you soon. Cheers- Sid

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  29. Could it be that Google no longer wants an association with Chris Pirillo? That “Gnomedex” gets the attention it does is absurd. It is all about Chris Pirillo and Pirillo’s various products. And seriously, is there a more ego-filled pompous man in the entire industry? Maybe Google recognizes that Pirillo is not a serious player, he’s on the fringe. When he left Des Moines (his hometown) Chris wrote horribly about Iowa and how he had “outgrown the backwater”…..etc. Simply put, the whole “Gnome” biz of Pirillo’s is a joke, and maybe Google has finally caught on.

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  30. Could it be that Google no longer wants an association with Chris Pirillo? That “Gnomedex” gets the attention it does is absurd. It is all about Chris Pirillo and Pirillo’s various products. And seriously, is there a more ego-filled pompous man in the entire industry? Maybe Google recognizes that Pirillo is not a serious player, he’s on the fringe. When he left Des Moines (his hometown) Chris wrote horribly about Iowa and how he had “outgrown the backwater”…..etc. Simply put, the whole “Gnome” biz of Pirillo’s is a joke, and maybe Google has finally caught on.

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  31. Gerard: you’d have a point there if Google only didn’t show up at Gnomedex. But they also weren’t at VloggerCon (they do Google Video, right?). They weren’t at Reboot (European developers). They weren’t at IT@Cork (Irish developers and IT guys). They weren’t at many other conferences I’ve been at in the past year. They used to be far more visible.

    I also totally don’t agree with you about Chris. But, that’s what makes the world go around.

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  32. Gerard: you’d have a point there if Google only didn’t show up at Gnomedex. But they also weren’t at VloggerCon (they do Google Video, right?). They weren’t at Reboot (European developers). They weren’t at IT@Cork (Irish developers and IT guys). They weren’t at many other conferences I’ve been at in the past year. They used to be far more visible.

    I also totally don’t agree with you about Chris. But, that’s what makes the world go around.

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  33. Last I checked Google’s financial numbers, I don’t think they have to worry too much about not showing up at fringe events that really don’t make the tech industry world go round.

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  34. Last I checked Google’s financial numbers, I don’t think they have to worry too much about not showing up at fringe events that really don’t make the tech industry world go round.

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  35. Dmad: yeah, they are doing great today. But, then, didn’t DEC used to be the biggest computer manufacturer around? Yeah! Didn’t Novell be really important? Yeah!

    See, here’s the deal: if you aren’t talking with audiences about what you’re doing then how are they supposed to find out about what you’re doing? (Google’s market share numbers for non search and non email services aren’t exactly barnstormers).

    Matt: true enough! Attending conferences also got to me. But, there aren’t any other “Matt Cutts” at Google? Come on, you are pulling my leg, right?

    And, what software is good if it isn’t used by anyone? How do you get it used by people? Show it off! And, how do you hear about new ideas, or get feedback on your old ones if you aren’t going to attend influential conferences?

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  36. Dmad: yeah, they are doing great today. But, then, didn’t DEC used to be the biggest computer manufacturer around? Yeah! Didn’t Novell be really important? Yeah!

    See, here’s the deal: if you aren’t talking with audiences about what you’re doing then how are they supposed to find out about what you’re doing? (Google’s market share numbers for non search and non email services aren’t exactly barnstormers).

    Matt: true enough! Attending conferences also got to me. But, there aren’t any other “Matt Cutts” at Google? Come on, you are pulling my leg, right?

    And, what software is good if it isn’t used by anyone? How do you get it used by people? Show it off! And, how do you hear about new ideas, or get feedback on your old ones if you aren’t going to attend influential conferences?

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  37. Mujibur, your taunts would hurt if they had real numbers behind them. Unfortunately Google doesn’t have the market share numbers to make your case for you. And, forget about blogging conferences. Google’s lack of participation in conferences gets worse once you get outside the tech and blogger worlds.

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  38. Mujibur, your taunts would hurt if they had real numbers behind them. Unfortunately Google doesn’t have the market share numbers to make your case for you. And, forget about blogging conferences. Google’s lack of participation in conferences gets worse once you get outside the tech and blogger worlds.

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  39. Robert,

    Didn’t you once make an argument that numbers don’t matter, to an Amazon executive no less?

    I agree with an earlier poster — the bigger challenge for Google (and most consumer technology companies) is to understand regular users, not the hardcore geeks.

    You also dodged Apple — they certainly don’t attend msot of these events but they seem to be doing alright.

    Don’t get me started on the market share numbers for tablets, origami, and xbox 360 (all launched during your time at Microsoft).

    Blogging is important, no doubt. But your self-importance is too much to bear…

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  40. Robert,

    Didn’t you once make an argument that numbers don’t matter, to an Amazon executive no less?

    I agree with an earlier poster — the bigger challenge for Google (and most consumer technology companies) is to understand regular users, not the hardcore geeks.

    You also dodged Apple — they certainly don’t attend msot of these events but they seem to be doing alright.

    Don’t get me started on the market share numbers for tablets, origami, and xbox 360 (all launched during your time at Microsoft).

    Blogging is important, no doubt. But your self-importance is too much to bear…

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  41. Mujibur: no, I didn’t make that point with him. You weren’t there, the numbers I was trying to present to him didn’t satisfy him. In other events we had much more persuasive numbers and were better prepared for an executive review.

    Apple’s market share is way lower than Google’s search or email share and its stock price has stalled. The only reason it went way up is cause it hit a grand slam home run with the iPod. Maybe Apple should think about what its next home run will be?

    Touche about Microsoft’s numbers, but I do note that the stock price is pretty low there and Xbox market share is going way up lately. You’ll see that in the next financial statements.

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  42. Mujibur: no, I didn’t make that point with him. You weren’t there, the numbers I was trying to present to him didn’t satisfy him. In other events we had much more persuasive numbers and were better prepared for an executive review.

    Apple’s market share is way lower than Google’s search or email share and its stock price has stalled. The only reason it went way up is cause it hit a grand slam home run with the iPod. Maybe Apple should think about what its next home run will be?

    Touche about Microsoft’s numbers, but I do note that the stock price is pretty low there and Xbox market share is going way up lately. You’ll see that in the next financial statements.

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  43. Hans: >Could the shift you’re seeing be more about their target changing to a broader, less technical audience? I think so.

    Interesting idea, but one that doesn’t stand up on scrutiny. Does Google attend other influential conferences for lawyers, teachers, plumbers? No. At least not that I’ve seen.

    And, like it or not Google’s target audience is still the tech industry. it’s where most of its market share will come from.

    Here’s a hint for why that’s true: why didn’t the search engine get sold to “normal humans” first?

    It’s cause normal humans don’t like trying new technologies where geeks and early adopters like me do.

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  44. Hans: >Could the shift you’re seeing be more about their target changing to a broader, less technical audience? I think so.

    Interesting idea, but one that doesn’t stand up on scrutiny. Does Google attend other influential conferences for lawyers, teachers, plumbers? No. At least not that I’ve seen.

    And, like it or not Google’s target audience is still the tech industry. it’s where most of its market share will come from.

    Here’s a hint for why that’s true: why didn’t the search engine get sold to “normal humans” first?

    It’s cause normal humans don’t like trying new technologies where geeks and early adopters like me do.

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  45. Just a note: the EuroPython conference I am attending right now has actually Google presence. And there’s even some swag supposed to be here just that the package has got lost somewhere inside CERN 😉
    (but I’ve got a T-Shirt, yay!)

    In fact they are also sponsoring this conference but actually it’s the first time I see them at some EuroPython.

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  46. Just a note: the EuroPython conference I am attending right now has actually Google presence. And there’s even some swag supposed to be here just that the package has got lost somewhere inside CERN 😉
    (but I’ve got a T-Shirt, yay!)

    In fact they are also sponsoring this conference but actually it’s the first time I see them at some EuroPython.

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  47. > And, like it or not Google’s target audience is still the tech industry. it’s where most of its market share will come from.

    No way, sorry, Robert. The tech audience did not make Google into a verb. That’s just rank and file ordinary normal web surfers doing that.

    The tech audience WAS the early adopter that helped Google rise to success. Without that audience, Google the verb never would have eventually happened.

    The tech audience may also be the audience that helps it get some of its other non-search or non-web search products to gain ground. But Google’s also got a well established core audience of “normal” people at this point. And it can reach out to that audience directly, as it already does, through its own web site or newsletters.

    I’m not saying Google shouldn’t get out more to more conferences — but then again, I don’t track all the conferences they get to. I know they’ve been at several librarian conferences, for example — those are influential but not conferences you’ve likely attended. I know they’ve been at a few book publishing things, and they’ve also been at that German conference on search issues last week. So they do get out, perhaps more than you know, but perhaps still not as much as they should.

    Whether getting out in front of the “influencers” will remain crucial to their success remains to be seen. That can be a key factor with some products; other products can be so compelling that you don’t need influencers behind their adoption.

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  48. > And, like it or not Google’s target audience is still the tech industry. it’s where most of its market share will come from.

    No way, sorry, Robert. The tech audience did not make Google into a verb. That’s just rank and file ordinary normal web surfers doing that.

    The tech audience WAS the early adopter that helped Google rise to success. Without that audience, Google the verb never would have eventually happened.

    The tech audience may also be the audience that helps it get some of its other non-search or non-web search products to gain ground. But Google’s also got a well established core audience of “normal” people at this point. And it can reach out to that audience directly, as it already does, through its own web site or newsletters.

    I’m not saying Google shouldn’t get out more to more conferences — but then again, I don’t track all the conferences they get to. I know they’ve been at several librarian conferences, for example — those are influential but not conferences you’ve likely attended. I know they’ve been at a few book publishing things, and they’ve also been at that German conference on search issues last week. So they do get out, perhaps more than you know, but perhaps still not as much as they should.

    Whether getting out in front of the “influencers” will remain crucial to their success remains to be seen. That can be a key factor with some products; other products can be so compelling that you don’t need influencers behind their adoption.

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  49. Matt Cutts said:

    The down side of sending software engineers to conferences (which I think is a great idea, because the discussions can be much more detailed) is that those engineers also have a lot of work/coding to do, so sometimes it’s harder for an active engineer to carve out time for conferences.

    Matt, this is what happens when you don’t have community evangelists. Robert wasn’t being taken away from coding when he went to conferences for Microsoft, because he was doing his job reaching out for Microsoft to the community. If you realize this problem, who not explain to your hiring committees that they need to hire some more passionate people who have less technical skills, and great outreach skills.

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  50. Matt Cutts said:

    The down side of sending software engineers to conferences (which I think is a great idea, because the discussions can be much more detailed) is that those engineers also have a lot of work/coding to do, so sometimes it’s harder for an active engineer to carve out time for conferences.

    Matt, this is what happens when you don’t have community evangelists. Robert wasn’t being taken away from coding when he went to conferences for Microsoft, because he was doing his job reaching out for Microsoft to the community. If you realize this problem, who not explain to your hiring committees that they need to hire some more passionate people who have less technical skills, and great outreach skills.

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  51. Danny, I totally disagree. The first time I heard Google being used as a verb was with geeks, not in “normal” society.

    Our culture leaks from geek groups into regular society so fast that you might miss this, but it wasn’t my mom that said “hey, Google this” first.

    Yeah, I know they’ve gone to a variety of conferences. I keep in touch with teachers, plumbers, truckers, librarians, by the way, but it seems like they’ve been showing up to fewer and fewer things, particularly the small ones where culture really gets built.

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  52. Danny, I totally disagree. The first time I heard Google being used as a verb was with geeks, not in “normal” society.

    Our culture leaks from geek groups into regular society so fast that you might miss this, but it wasn’t my mom that said “hey, Google this” first.

    Yeah, I know they’ve gone to a variety of conferences. I keep in touch with teachers, plumbers, truckers, librarians, by the way, but it seems like they’ve been showing up to fewer and fewer things, particularly the small ones where culture really gets built.

    Like

  53. taotakashi, glad you got a Google T-shirt from EuroPython. 🙂 Nathan Weinberg, I personally agree that it would be great to get some more evangelists on board.

    Robert, I do think that Google is talking to more people at more conferences than we did in previous years. Participating at places such as SIGIR, the WWW conference, Linux World, Internet Librarian, Infonortics, WebSearchU, SIGIR, EuroPython, Kelsey Group conferences, etc. might not make it on your radar as much. There are a lot of places that Google talks to different folks. You probably don’t make it to places such as SIGGRAPH as often as (v)blogger get togethers, for example, but there are also lots of smart people there. And things like the Summer of Code are another great way to meet talented students who will give feedback.

    BTW, I’d love to hear about “a year in the life of Scoble”–basically a rundown of which conferences you hit this past year. That would be pretty interesting. Is it more than 20?

    P.S. I think “The Dish” would be a great podcast, except everyone would be out of breath for the first 10 minutes as they climbed that first hill. 🙂

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  54. taotakashi, glad you got a Google T-shirt from EuroPython. 🙂 Nathan Weinberg, I personally agree that it would be great to get some more evangelists on board.

    Robert, I do think that Google is talking to more people at more conferences than we did in previous years. Participating at places such as SIGIR, the WWW conference, Linux World, Internet Librarian, Infonortics, WebSearchU, SIGIR, EuroPython, Kelsey Group conferences, etc. might not make it on your radar as much. There are a lot of places that Google talks to different folks. You probably don’t make it to places such as SIGGRAPH as often as (v)blogger get togethers, for example, but there are also lots of smart people there. And things like the Summer of Code are another great way to meet talented students who will give feedback.

    BTW, I’d love to hear about “a year in the life of Scoble”–basically a rundown of which conferences you hit this past year. That would be pretty interesting. Is it more than 20?

    P.S. I think “The Dish” would be a great podcast, except everyone would be out of breath for the first 10 minutes as they climbed that first hill. 🙂

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  55. > Danny, I totally disagree. The first time I heard Google being used as a verb was with geeks, not in “normal” society.

    I don’t know where the term began. It could have indeed come from geeks talking about it. The bigger point is that it’s not a geek thing any more. Google isn’t powerful today because geek’s make it powerful. It’s powerful because “normals” use it — and those normals, Google can reach out to them directly

    By the way, the first time I saw the term “googled” used was back in 2001 from a decidedly non-geek resource, the New York Observer. The article was:

    Don’t Be Shy, Ladies — Google Him! Check Out His Search Engine First
    http://www.deborahschoeneman.com/pages/pops/google.html

    2001, Robert — normals using Google back then and citing it as a verb. Maybe it was used by geeks before this, but that’s the oldest cite I’ve ever seen in my years of watching.

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  56. > Danny, I totally disagree. The first time I heard Google being used as a verb was with geeks, not in “normal” society.

    I don’t know where the term began. It could have indeed come from geeks talking about it. The bigger point is that it’s not a geek thing any more. Google isn’t powerful today because geek’s make it powerful. It’s powerful because “normals” use it — and those normals, Google can reach out to them directly

    By the way, the first time I saw the term “googled” used was back in 2001 from a decidedly non-geek resource, the New York Observer. The article was:

    Don’t Be Shy, Ladies — Google Him! Check Out His Search Engine First
    http://www.deborahschoeneman.com/pages/pops/google.html

    2001, Robert — normals using Google back then and citing it as a verb. Maybe it was used by geeks before this, but that’s the oldest cite I’ve ever seen in my years of watching.

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  57. Robert: > And, like it or not Google’s target audience is still the tech industry. it’s where most of its market share will come from… Here’s a hint for why that’s true: why didn’t the search engine get sold to “normal humans” first? It’s cause normal humans don’t like trying new technologies where geeks and early adopters like me do.

    If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. You already understand the early segments of his technology adoption life-cycle… where the innovators (e.g. most Gnomedexers) and early adopters live. But these segments aren’t where Google’s growth will come from.

    Rather, Google is reaching deep into the pragmatist camps (early/late majority) and has even attracted some laggards. These groups make up the vast majority of the addressable market (statistically ~85% assuming a normal distribution). They’re the ones that still believe “Google is the way you get to anything else on that internet thing.” And they’re the ones who are clicking on the adsense ads that feed the company.

    How many pragmatists and traditionalists are frequent conference attendees? Substantially fewer than innovators and early adopters.

    This isn’t to say Google should piss off the innovators and early adopters… so it is nice to see at least a couple Googlers were in attendance. But at the same time I can appreciate their increased focus on the folks that will bring in the bulk of their revenues.

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  58. Robert: > And, like it or not Google’s target audience is still the tech industry. it’s where most of its market share will come from… Here’s a hint for why that’s true: why didn’t the search engine get sold to “normal humans” first? It’s cause normal humans don’t like trying new technologies where geeks and early adopters like me do.

    If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend Geoffrey Moore’s Crossing the Chasm. You already understand the early segments of his technology adoption life-cycle… where the innovators (e.g. most Gnomedexers) and early adopters live. But these segments aren’t where Google’s growth will come from.

    Rather, Google is reaching deep into the pragmatist camps (early/late majority) and has even attracted some laggards. These groups make up the vast majority of the addressable market (statistically ~85% assuming a normal distribution). They’re the ones that still believe “Google is the way you get to anything else on that internet thing.” And they’re the ones who are clicking on the adsense ads that feed the company.

    How many pragmatists and traditionalists are frequent conference attendees? Substantially fewer than innovators and early adopters.

    This isn’t to say Google should piss off the innovators and early adopters… so it is nice to see at least a couple Googlers were in attendance. But at the same time I can appreciate their increased focus on the folks that will bring in the bulk of their revenues.

    Like

  59. Hans: the problem is that how did Google get to the mass audience? THROUGH THE FREAKING EARLY ADOPTERS!!!!

    It wasn’t my dad who woke up one morning and told ME about Google. No, it was the freaking OTHER WAY AROUND!!!

    Guess who’s gonna tell him about Google Checkout, or Gmail, or Google Maps, or really, any of its services? That’s right. An early adopter.

    Unless they start doing Superbowl ads.

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  60. Hans: the problem is that how did Google get to the mass audience? THROUGH THE FREAKING EARLY ADOPTERS!!!!

    It wasn’t my dad who woke up one morning and told ME about Google. No, it was the freaking OTHER WAY AROUND!!!

    Guess who’s gonna tell him about Google Checkout, or Gmail, or Google Maps, or really, any of its services? That’s right. An early adopter.

    Unless they start doing Superbowl ads.

    Like

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