free html hit counter What Means This, To "Go Google"!? - John Battelle's Search Blog

What Means This, To "Go Google"!?

By - July 21, 2010

GoogFortuneBackPageJuly2010.png

I thought it meant to search! Apparently, in this context, it means “to drop Microsoft Office and use our software!”

I almost feel like a relic pointing out the obvious, but when I got my latest paper-based Fortune magazine (yes, I do subscribe to a few still), I found the image at left on the back cover.

Long ago, while writing the book, I predicted that Google, long proud of the fact it never had to market its brand, would have to start marketing like a “normal” company. Why? Because while search “markets itself”, applications like Picasa won’t.

And so it has been, and so it continues. In January of this year, when my attention turns to predictions, I said that Google will have to decide to promise more as a brand than “search.” In May, I pointed out that this concept was progressing.

Not that big a deal, I suppose, given that the years have come and gone, and we’ve turned our attention to other Internet meteors like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare. Except…I still find it significant that the king of the Web has purchased the back page of an analog magazine. If for no other reason that this entry in the database of intentions – this blog post – may be discovered by some anthropologist in centuries yet to come, as proof of some point yet unmade.

Or something.

Still and all, I am fascinated by what it means that Google, the verb that means “to search”, is being used by Google, the company, to mean something entirely different.


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19 thoughts on “What Means This, To "Go Google"!?

  1. Paul de Beer says:

    It’s a strange ad with multiple layers. Courier old-school typeface in a paper magazine, combined with a QR-code? Maybe Google wants you to drop your Remington and use Apps?

  2. Chris Bassett says:

    “to google” and “to go google” seem like totally different verbs. The former is all about searching for something. The latter is more about a fundamental change to a new way. Other examples, to go native; to go commando; to go west. All three show a rebellious side, quite powerful statements to associate their brand with.

  3. Ann says:

    I am afraid that this obfuscation of “Google” is not good for Google even if its serves well some temporal goals to sell more Office apps.

    “Google” was a paradigm. “Google” equal to very good search and innovations in search and internet, “search” was equal to google. Innovations in search were equal to google.

    This new term “Google” as in “go Google” is good for marketing but has nothing to do with coolness and innovations. It is just an application with is not worth or better then other similar applications and the only “googliness” of it is because it was produced by Google. I like Google Docs and other apps and use it a lot, but no way Google is the first and innovative in that area as it is the first, cool and innovative in search.
    So I am afraid this obfuscation of term “Google” and use of it in area where google is just of many similar players is not good for Google

  4. Ann says:

    John
    as the person with the best knowledge of history and personality of Google, could you comment on recent Google “Bing-ish” launches: Google Image Search, Google Background image, Google Local?
    I am as many other Google fans are confused, why Google copies features instead of following the own
    path.

  5. John says:

    @ann – sometimes the market has good ideas that you don’t, and you have to move with it. I think it’s OK. But it’s clear Google is not the pure innovator it once was. That’s to be expected, no?

  6. chumpsky says:

    You got the grammar wrong — in this context, Google isn’t a verb at all. In the phrase “Go Google,” they’re using the noun Google as an adjective. The meaning is entirely different from the verb “to Google.”

  7. Andrew says:

    This is no more “Google using the verb Google, meaning search, to mean something different” than it was when they called their company ‘Google’. You would be right if the slogan was “over 2 million businesses have Googled”. This is Google coining the adjective “Google”, meaning “using Google’s web-applications instead of desktop-based alternatives”. The verb is “to go”, as in, “over 2 billion companies have gone bankrupt”.

  8. Perhaps 2 million companies use Google’s OS but I still find it lacking functionality as a basic office application suite. Sure the components look like they’re all there, but as someone who creates content and wanted to like Google’s OS, it just felt incomplete.

  9. I agree, the new Google Docs 2010 editor is more word processor than the old, but it’s missing some word processing requirements, like named styles and tables that work. Other things are broken, including spellchecking, languages, auto-correct, footnote numbers, etc. And with the new wp interoperability goal, no editing of HTML or CSS.

    The new editor was in beta from April to June 15, which was clearly not long enough. Now the default is to create documents in the 2010 Docs format, and people get really confused (lots of questions in the Help forums). Having it as a cloud service just makes it worse: they can change anything without warning.

    Thinking about how hard it is to release a big upgrade, and the specific demands it has on an organization that is used to incremental upgrades, I wrote an article: Google Docs 2010 Not Ready for Prime Time

  10. Ben Joven says:

    You’ve arrived when your company name is -not only-a verb but also an adjective.

    Seriously 2 million users?

  11. @Ben – I think that’s 2 million accounts, not 2 million active users.

  12. Kristof says:

    If I recall correctly, you said something along the lines of “Google will never have to pay for a superbowl ad to promote its services.”

    I guess Parisian Love conquers all ;-)

  13. It will be interesting to see if a few discrete ads like this are meant to generate blog buzz (like the goog411 bill boards a few years ago) or are the start of more focused ad campaigns by Google.

    Specific to MS Office, I think it’s a great product but
    I really wonder if its going to become a premium product for businesses that need the extra functionality and basically irrelevant to the masses who are using email, twitter, facebook, etc as their word processing software.

  14. Google advertised on “analog” media, because they are targeting “analog” CEOs that need to know that there are alternatives to MS and 2 million companies have made the switch.

  15. Ted Howard says:

    I just flew Virgin Atlantic this week. Right after the (very well-made) safety video, a Google Chrome advertisement played on the screen of every seat in the plane. I had the same ‘I thought Google was proud to never advertise its products’ thought.

  16. Its definitely interesting what Google is doing to prop up its applications.

    They are just trying to compete with others (mainly Microsoft) on the same field that others are utilizing.

    They are going for the less tech-savvy people who are used to the traditional office products from Microsoft and hoping they will get a fair share of that market as well.

  17. Eh. We use Google docs for some activities, but it’s just not as good as excel, I’m sorry.

    Google’s also turning more and more towards a CPL platform, as predicted at the end of your book.

    Most advertisers who spend upwards of $500,000 month have been approached, very pointedly without engaging the agencies that manage said spend, about CPL tests on the content network.

    So they see their own profit growth as coming more from cleverly-overlaying demographic data on their ad network, than they do search.

    I love them, I really do, but their hubris has gotta catch ‘em some day.

  18. Frank Adams says:

    Well, I also use google docs just when Excel is not around. I think Google has to try again to gain better reputation to get on top of Microsoft Office. But Google is promising really. I am waiting for better applications Google will release. Thanks for the post.

  19. googleapps says:

    It’s definitely not on par with Office products (though opening documents directly in your web browser can be useful at times); however, Google Apps definitely competes with the Exchange and Lotus Notes mail servers. The savings are huge(especially if you hire an onsite exchange admin for your company). You can try this out by using the “gone google” app they have on their page.

    I will admit I am biased though since I found this blog post in my Google Reader.