I worked at post-DOJ-spanked Microsoft. I saw firsthand how wimpy Bill Gates got (I had a lunch with him and Mike Arrington where we talked about whether Microsoft would let us acquire interesting new companies. “No way” was the basic answer. Funny that back then they could have purchased Skype for $2 billion, not listening cost them $6.5 billion).
It’s worse than that Jason. Google is behaving like Microsoft. It isn’t buying the most interesting new startups (VMware is, having purchased SocialCast today, after SlideRocket and Mozy). It has done pretty sizable harm to its first service, search, and Microsoft is even kicking ass on its mapping technology.
So, what could Google in 2015 look like?
Jason lays out one vision of what Google could look like in four years: a nice company that helps the entire industry grow together.
Let’s be honest. Big companies don’t do what’s right (translation: I don’t think Google will listen to Jason). Why not?
Go into the heads of a big-company employee. Do they want to do the hard work of starting a new initiative? No. Do they want to take the personal risk to go into Larry Page and ask him to do something he isn’t already doing? No. Do they want to go into Larry and say “hey, Larry, we’ve screwed up in social and we’re screwing up in search, we need to do some small things to addict people to our services?” No. In fact, does anyone want to pitch Larry in doing something small, like it seemed Instagram was when we all first saw it? Or Foursquare? Or Twitter? Come on, how many of you, when you first saw those things, said to someone else “that’s gonna be a big company some day?” I didn’t even though I was in the first 15,000 to have a Twitter account. Even if I had, it’s one thing to be a tech blogger or a geek in Palo Alto and it’s a whole nother thing to go and pitch Larry Page and say those things.
Even worse, will the average employee at a big company tell the lawyers to sit down and shut up? Nope, not in my experience.
What’s small today? Here’s a list over on Quora (I’m seeing Ashton Kutcher soon, so asked for startups to pitch me their stuff). Quick, any of these gonna be big companies someday? How do you know? Who made you an expert? I hang out with experts and even they really don’t know. Quick, what was Facebook when it first came out? “A way to meet girls at Harvard.” You really were gonna fund that? Even Ron Conway got involved after it went to other colleges.
Anyway, what will Google look like in 2015?
First, what will the trends be for the next four years?
1. Mobile will get bigger screens, more capabilities, and many more users will have more than 100 apps (today only the weirdos like me do, the industry even has a name for us, they call us “heavy app users”).
2. Home entertainment systems will increasingly go completely Internet connected and many people will unplug their cable systems.
3. All media will be streamed, very few users will have downloadable files anymore.
4. There will be “apps of apps.” In other words, there will be apps that join many apps together. Already that’s happening. When I take photos with Instagram I can send those photos over to Foodspotting, Trey Ratcliffe’s photo app, amongst others. Om Malik wrote about that trend yesterday.
5. Social networking will be far more nuanced than it is today. I saw one startup, coming soon, that figured out who people I worked with 10 years ago were. All by just looking at Facebook. How? Artificial Intelligence from a lab at Stanford University.
6. We’re going to know EVERYTHING about ourselves, if we put the data in. Just this past weekend there was a Quantified Self conference with hundreds of attendees (held just a couple of miles from Google’s headquarters).
7. Automobiles will have more interactivity and more “assisted driving technology” than today, but the fully automatic self-driven car will still be years away for the average person due to cost.
8. 3DTV will continue to struggle, due to lack of content and the continued requirement to wear glasses on most screens.
9. Our social graphs will bring us much richer experiences. Going to Sonoma? You’ll know exactly where your friends have visited in the past and you’ll be able to see where celebrities like Mark Zuckerberg or Ashton Kutcher have visited.
10. News has shifted very heavily toward socially-influenced real time displays like Zite, Flipboard, Feedly, etc, on tablets.
So, which ones is Google doing well at today in 2011?
Mobile? Oh, yeah, Google is doing pretty well here. They aren’t the thought leaders, but are the market share leaders.
Home entertainment? Nope. Xbox rules here and Apple TV is the up and comer. Google’s efforts are too expensive and too geeky to use.
Media streaming? Nope. Google isn’t a major player yet. Netflix, Spotify, etc prove that Google hasn’t made major inroads here yet and Apple is about to really demonstrate how lame Google’s efforts in music have been so far. Even Amazon is making Google look bad.
Apps of apps? Nope, I don’t see Google leading anything here. If anything the startups are making it happen. Heck, even Twilio and Simple Geo are showing innovation in areas where Google should be dominant.
Nuanced social networks? Um, Google isn’t even in the game in social yet, not to mention making social networks that are letting us do something Facebook isn’t.
Quantified self services? Richer social graphs? Google hasn’t even figured that out, even though Google was an early leader here with its health efforts.
Automobiles? Google has the self-driving cars, which are good for PR, but, who has been putting units INTO today’s cars? Microsoft and RIM. Not Google.
3DTV. Google is actually a leader here, with YouTube enabling new kinds of content. But, is this an area that really will matter? It sure doesn’t look like it will anytime soon.
New news displays. Google isn’t a player here yet.
So, will Google take the “bad door” and continue doing things that are anti-competitive and anti-consumer, which will invite even more government scrutiny of our industry or will they take the “good door” and actually start innovating in these areas?
Can someone call me and tell me what Google of 2015 will look like?
I so want Google to be innovative again, but it sure doesn’t look like it will be. What do you think?