Posted by Tom Foremski - June 23, 2010
Google has had a long string of failures. It encourages its engineers to spend 20% of their time developing side projects but when those projects reach launch stage, their take-off is nearly always very disappointing.
Take a look at some of Google's failures.
Colin Gibbs reporting on GigaOM:
I can easily add a lot more to this list. Google Video; Google's acquisition of Jot; Google Wave; Knol; Checkout; Catalogs; Base; Squared; and Google Buzz could be the latest.
Google has tremendous scale so it is puzzling to some why so many of its services should have been such failures. But, it isn't that surprising if you consider its culture because Google believes that good products will find their users based on their own merits.
What Google fails to recognize is that it needs to assign marketing support. Without marketing support it is wasting the cream of its engineering talent.
Have you seen any marketing for Google services beyond an occasional text ad?
I've never been contacted by any PR companies, or Google corporate comms people to talk about a new Google service or product. Yet I receive countless such invitations from smaller companies trying to get media attention.
Google's failure to recognize the need for effective marketing is deep rooted within its engineering culture. Engineers don't believe in marketing. Many software engineers will deride a company's success (e.g Apple) as "it's just marketing." It makes it seems as if "marketing" is something that can be easily acquired and put to good use.
But marketing is not easy, and successful marketing is not a commodity (it's interesting that software engineers are (becoming) a commodity...)
Google's own success grew out of a non-marketing approach; Google search was simply a better product. Google is proud that it didn't use marketing to become a success.
But times are different today. There is a tremendous amount of media already on the Internet and this level will rise to a media tsunami as companies and individuals make full use of their media publishing capabilities. The media tsunami will drown less able companies, products, and services.
Effective marketing is going to become ever more important, and more expensive, simply because the media tsunami is raising the bar for everyone to stand out.
Company culture is very difficult to change and it changes slowly and that's why Google will continue to launch new services, and it will continue to fail because it doesn't understand the need for follow up marketing and PR.
And that means it will continue to remain a one-trick pony.