I’m a bit reticent to jump into this, as I’m not sure you all care that much, but I’ve got a decent reason for writing about Buzz (yesterday’s piece) again today.
First, I’ve seen a piece (Calacanis) proclaiming Buzz the second (third? fifth?) coming of social. Facebook will “lost half its value” due to Buzz’s arrival, Jason opines. I think this is silly. Then again, I seem to think a lot of things are silly. Pretty soon, I’ll be chasing kids off my front lawn, the way I’m going. And I’ve not used Buzz, nor will I, as I’m not a Gmail user nor do I plan on becoming one. So don’t listen to me if you are a Gmail addict who wants to recreate your entire social experience in that medium. Go nuts. I’m all for more options.
Anyway. The larger issue to me has to do with Google’s approach to customers. The Google mantra has always been “we design for our customers.” Here’s the official declaration on Google’s corporate philosophy page (the first two points are also in the image above):
1. Focus on the user and all else will follow. Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line.
For the most part, Google has hewn closely to this strategy. But it has a major blind spot when it comes to Facebook and Twitter – Facebook in particular. I can understand ignoring Twitter – one could argue it’s not ubiquitous and therefore can be left off the feature set of new products. But ignoring Facebook when it comes to social search and status update is akin to ignoring oxygen when it’s time to light a fire: it’s silly (there’s that word again).
Furthermore, it’s not designing for your customer. Just about every one of Google’s customers has invested significant time and energy into their Facebook social graph. Launching social search (my take here) and Buzz with the pretension that Facebook doesn’t matter can not be explained away (at least, Google isn’t trying). What Google customer wouldn’t want at least the option to have their Google searches filtered through their Facebook social graph? And what Google customer wouldn’t want to at least have the option to import their Facebook connections and data feeds into and out of Google Buzz (not to mention publish into Twitter)?
Google made a clear decision to exclude Facebook from both social search and Buzz, and to my mind, that decision was made due to competitive issues – the company’s “own internal goal or bottom line.”
Now, tons of companies make similar decisions every day of every week. Fine.
But if you’re going to claim to be a different kind of company, one that is unique in philosophy and management approach, you can’t continually chip away at your core philosophy and not expect to be called on it by the very consumers that built your brand in the first place.
Oh, and by the way, it might be time to take a look at the second point in that Corporate Philosophy: “It’s best to do one thing really, really well. We do search.”
…and Nexus One, and Android, and Docs, and Doubleclick, and YouTube, and broadband and wifi networks, and blogs, and music, and books, and shopping/checkout, and Buzz, and Gmail, and…..anyway.
I think Google is an extraordinary company. But as I predicted way back in January, it’s time for it to mean something besides search, and for the company to own up to acting, well, like a company that protects its own interests, even ahead of, at certain times, the interests of its customers. It’s not like any of us are paying for Gmail, after all….
Onwards to the linkage:
IPG Goes with Microsoft’s Atlas for Ad Management (ClickZ) The politics between Microsoft and Google continue to play out in the agency holding company battlefield.
Making the Most of Earned Media (eMarketer) Content is key to platform-based marketing programs.
Needed: A New Science For Valuing Content (AdAge) And content companies need to figure that out.
MySpace CEO Van Natta Was Fired by News Corp. Digital Head Miller in Late Afternoon Meeting (D) I like Owen. I like Jon. I don’t like news like this. Bummer all around.
TV Ads Less Effective, Budgets Shifting Online (MarketingProfs). Well, sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and watch it happen.
Live From Yahoo SearchSpeak 2010 (TC) Yahoo’s not given up on search, despite the Microsoft deal. The company is still innovating.
Love Stinks: 5 Parodies of Google’s Romantic Super Bowl Ad [VIDEO] (Mashable) You know, this is why I love them interwebs.