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Author Topic: Wow: Google insider explains why Big G may lose the Internet wars  (Read 6684 times)
JavaJones
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« on: October 12, 2011, 10:15:54 PM »

This is a really amazing post by a Google employee, supposedly intended originally for a private Google audience but "accidentally" posted publicly and now, apparently, allowed to remain public. Read it while it lasts!
https://plus.google.com/1...1889851/posts/eVeouesvaVX
Some choice quotes:
Quote
I was at Amazon for about six and a half years, and now I've been at Google for that long. One thing that struck me immediately about the two companies -- an impression that has been reinforced almost daily -- is that Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right... But there's one thing [Amazon] do really really well that pretty much makes up for ALL of their political, philosophical and technical screw-ups.
Quote
That one last thing that Google doesn't do well is Platforms. We don't understand platforms. We don't "get" platforms. Some of you do, but you are the minority. This has become painfully clear to me over the past six years. I was kind of hoping that competitive pressure from Microsoft and Amazon and more recently Facebook would make us wake up collectively and start doing universal services. Not in some sort of ad-hoc, half-assed way, but in more or less the same way Amazon did it: all at once, for real, no cheating, and treating it as our top priority from now on. But no. No, it's like our tenth or eleventh priority. Or fifteenth, I don't know. It's pretty low.

It's a long write-up but well worth reading all of it. Please do!

I don't really have much to add except to say that I've never really understood this issue as clearly as he states it here. I've had some sense of it, but the way he lays it out makes it blindingly obvious. I hope Google learns from this because I like their products and the general way they do things, but it's true that they are slowly losing the platform wars. I honestly thought G+ must have had a strong platform vision internally that was slowly being exposed to the outside world, but it sounds like maybe that's not the case. Eek!

- Oshyan
« Last Edit: October 13, 2011, 02:08:27 AM by JavaJones » Logged

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mahesh2k
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2011, 02:29:46 AM »

Internet is much better if no single brand manipulates it in one profitable direction. Dominance makes internet experience monotonous no matter how good they offer services. If you look at their *new* minimalistic layouts for every product (blogger, adsense and other sites) you'll realize that they suck at minimalistic interface and usability these days. Google fonts and blogger for example are big FAIL and not just that take a look at google adsense mobile interface, it sucks badly in reporting.

I think only way i can sum this up - stop pleasing everyone. Stop being perfect for everyone. Stop competing for market share by creating clone of every popular service out there. They're acting like amateurs these days. Closing google labs was a bad move. When you stop innovating, you end up emulating. Good luck google for such deceptive vision.
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2011, 07:05:55 AM »

Steve Yegge is actually a well known blogger here : http://steve-yegge.blogspot.com/

The old stuff is awesome, the new stuff is less good. He slowly stopped blogging as he got immersed in google.
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2011, 08:24:23 AM »

Yegge makes some very good points, and while many journalists thought this inflammatory, I thought it was helpful. In any company/corp./organization big enough, you're going to have large differences, and this is a good one. That he felt secure enough to air this out and not get fired tells me something about the company. Now only if they'd listen. Essentially he's saying, let's build a foundation and stop with all the neat new widgets we're throwing at the wall and seeing what sticks. You want an 'ecosystem'? Then you need a proper platform on which to build it.
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2011, 08:59:10 AM »

It is amazing that the problem of "never being given enough time to do it right, but always being assigned unlimited hours to do it over" continues to be the bane of so many American businesses.

Woulda thought Google would be above that. Especially since G.P. Zachary's 1994 book Show Stopper, which documented Microsoft's crash program to develop Windows NT under the directorship of Dave Cutler (of VAX/VMS fame) is a working blueprint for what a massive and fundamental platform dev project is about  - and for.

(Note: this was also the book that popularized the phrase "Eat your own dog food." and helped embed it into the collective subconscious of the tech world.) Cool
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2011, 10:46:14 AM »

I thought this was hilarious:

But I'll argue that Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network.
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2011, 12:47:24 PM »

Quote
The guy is a regular... well, Steve Jobs, I guess. Except without the fashion or design sense. Bezos is super smart; don't get me wrong. He just makes ordinary control freaks look like stoned hippies.

Bwahahahaaha~!

Man... it's a good read! smiley
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2011, 01:28:55 PM »

The problem is not really lack of platform, it's that Google cares all about its employees and nothing about its customers.

The nature of business is that you sell something to your customers. If you don't listen to what they want, you will eventually be replaced by someone else who does.

Google has been phenomenally successful because it built a better search engine and has kept improving it.  That is the ONLY thing at which it has been successful AS A BUSINESS. It has been reasonably successful in some other endeavors, such as Android, but it has yet to make any significant revenue at that, and may never do so.

But Google shows no interest in even trying to find out what its customers want. The lack of adjustable font sizes in Chrome that Yegge mentions is typical of that.  A more critical example is Google's refusal to accept that, for many people, an app that is not available offline is not functional, because only in Silicon Valley is the Internet truly 24/7/365, and because if your data only exists on Google's servers, you have no real control over it.  See this article by James Falllows for an example of what that means.

Jeff Bezos may be as awful a boss as Yegge says (although one should take an ex-employee's gripes with a grain of salt), but he is all about satisfying the customer, not his staff, and that is why Amazon may be around long after Google, unless someone at Google eventually gets it.
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40hz
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2011, 01:58:42 PM »


Jeff Bezos may be as awful a boss as Yegge says (although one should take an ex-employee's gripes with a grain of salt), but he is all about satisfying the customer, not his staff, and that is why Amazon may be around long after Google, unless someone at Google eventually gets it.


Or until such time as either the Department of Labor or OSHA crack down on Amazon big time - or until enough employees finally get so fed up they vote to unionize. Boy will that ever cramp Jeff's style. I doubt Amazon could survive a three day walkout let alone a protracted strike.

Just like in the days of the old railroads and mines! History coming back I wonder?
 Wink

My favorite quote was this:
Quote
So one day Jeff Bezos issued a mandate. He's doing that all the time, of course, and people scramble like ants being pounded with a rubber mallet whenever it happens. But on one occasion -- back around 2002 I think, plus or minus a year -- he issued a mandate that was so out there, so huge and eye-bulgingly ponderous, that it made all of his other mandates look like unsolicited peer bonuses.

His Big Mandate went something along these lines:

1) All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.

2) Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.

3) There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team's data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.

4) It doesn't matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols -- doesn't matter. Bezos doesn't care.

5) All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.

6) Anyone who doesn't do this will be fired.

7) Thank you; have a nice day!

Ha, ha! You 150-odd ex-Amazon folks here will of course realize immediately that #7 was a little joke I threw in, because Bezos most definitely does not give a shit about your day.
Grin
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2011, 02:13:34 PM »

Or until such time as either the Department of Labor or OSHA crack down on Amazon big time - or until enough employees finally get so fed up they vote to unionize. Boy will that ever cramp Jeff's style. I doubt Amazon could survive a three day walkout let alone a protracted strike.

War chest > secretly setup operational infrastructure in cheaper place > transfer operations > inform staff in expensive place that they no longer have jobs > laugh all the way to bank.

I believe we've see that one before once or twice. Where is America's textile industry?
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2011, 02:25:25 PM »

If you look at it from non-techie angle, that google employee's rant looks similar to cheerleader complaining about her work and not getting noticed. I mean seriously this looks like cry for attention.

1) Oh look facebook is leader in market, let's beat them with G+. what ? no one is looking at G+ ? ..... cry sob sob sob...

2) Hey amazon is capturing internet with their shop and products, that's bad we have to stop them, we are the good guys in privacy and user caring so lets beat them by being leader in their domain, let's copy them. what ? not working ? ..... cry sob sob sob...

3) MS and apple are leader in OS wars ? that's bad, let's beat them... copy linux, add web only features and sell... what ? not working...? ..... cry sob sob sob...

4) Tired of IE and mozzila, opera ? lets create a platform to spy on users and tie them with our products and networks... what ? not working ? screw you all... Eff all of you... cry sob sob sob...

Nothing is working except adwords ? cry..sob sob sob.

We need to be leader to control the internet or else our employees (which are fanbois at it's best) are going to cry like cheerleaders. We need platform. Cry...sob sob. 

 Wink
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40hz
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2011, 06:48:44 PM »

We need to be leader to control the internet or else our employees (which are fanbois at it's best) are going to cry like cheerleaders. We need platform. Cry...sob sob.

Umm...yes...they do actually.

If your business is based on an SOA model, and your product is SAS (very smart) as opposed to merely vending out your raw data collections (very dumb), then developing a robust and versatile platform is exactly what they need to do.

Minor point: if this screed came from some lumpen programmer sitting in a back room over at Google, it might just be a whiny cheerleader talking. But this particular developer has some experience and a track record behind him. So it packs a little more street cred than many rants. And many in the industry, with even better credentials, find much to agree with him about. It will be interesting to see if Google eventually does.

I personally have to give him credit. Having worked for Fortune 500 (and in once case Fortune #5) for a number of years, I can appreciate the balls it took to call it like he saw it - even if it was intended for internal consumption. I've seen guys with 20 years in (and a family to support) escorted out through personnel with pink slip in hand for saying less while in a closed staff meeting.

It's one thing to slag your company for self-destructive business decisions. That you can sometimes get away with.

But the one time you won't be forgiven is if  the boys at the top know you're right.

That degree of candor and 'rightness' is seldom tolerated in a large corporation. Cool

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« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2011, 09:03:25 AM »

I agree on that part, for which i do have respect for this guy as his post made it up on CNN today. I can't imagine MS, Oracle, Dell and other Fortune 500 company employees ranting at cafeteria like this , let alone blog post or social media post. There are very few companies out their offering creativity space and freedom to employees. Google and yahoo are one of them. Rest of the other companies seem to have policies to treat their workers as "corporate whores slaves".
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zridling
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« Reply #13 on: October 14, 2011, 11:51:18 AM »

I personally have to give him credit. Having worked for Fortune 500 (and in once case Fortune #5) for a number of years, I can appreciate the balls it took to call it like he saw it - even if it was intended for internal consumption. I've seen guys with 20 years in (and a family to support) escorted out through personnel with pink slip in hand for saying less while in a closed staff meeting.

Indeed, and to Google's credit. Trick is, if they want to keep guys like Steve Yegge, they need to listen to him, not just nod and walk away. I worked for one [wealthy NASDAQ] company for years and watched them escort the best people out the door for merely wanting to modernize the code, the UI, documentation, etc. It was a ugly situation. Now, no one will work for them unless they're highly overpaid. Usually corporations don't suffer karma!
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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2011, 07:27:56 PM »

Google needs to calm down a bit. All these experiments. G+ is their third try (at least!) to do something "social".

Chrome is successful; so successful that Mozilla tries to copy its look&feel. But no innovations are added. Everything has been there before.
Same goes for Google Mail: It is not enough to take Hotmail and add some "you have $rand() GB space!" hint. Oh, wait: It is.

Google Music? "Hey, spotify/simfy/grooveshark have customers. Let's pretend we are better!"

Google is the Apple of the 201x decade. Old, grown ideas packed into aggressive marketing. Bleh.
Even Google Search sucks in terms of quality. Quantity is not everything.

Time to learn that, Google.
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« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2011, 09:40:33 PM »

Maybe Google doesn't have to be that innovative. Maybe all that you need is "everything that the other service has +1" is enough. Maybe innovation can be bought. Microsoft products are certainly very well-stuffed cornicopias and seem to satisfy users who use only a quarter of what's available. Linux programs may only do one thing each, but people seem to keep adding to what's available. How many people here have G+ accounts? If the service give people a bigger sandbox to do what they want to do and fix mistakes in while having the potential to attract all their friends and audience, people will flock to it. Is there anything that G+ lacks that the common blogger and forum user wants?  I don't think so. G+ is the newest toy on the market, it should attract new users just because of that. Google has said they will shut down Buzz, if G+ works out and gets enough audience, they may move the Blogger people over to there. What does Blogger offer that G+ doesn't?(I presume that Blogger is a cloud service, not on the operator's own hardware and that it is a Google product) I believe they have said that the Lab was shut down so that they could concentrate on making what they were already doing successes, if that happens they should restart the Lab. They seem to be quite friendly to innovation, I can see no reason why they wouldn't do that.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2011, 10:27:14 PM by Arizona Hot » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2011, 08:21:39 AM »

G+ is not a replacement for your own blog. Sure, you can easily reach a lot of people there immediately, but you will also most likely drain out in the noise of all these "bloggers".
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« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2011, 01:01:05 PM »

War chest > secretly setup operational infrastructure in cheaper place > transfer operations > inform staff in expensive place that they no longer have jobs > laugh all the way to bank.

I believe we've see that one before once or twice. Where is America's textile industry?

Yeah, we have seen and continue to see that done.

But Amazon needs to physically move product. Relocating overseas would move those big hulking warehouses out of a relatively secure and law-abiding country and away from all those nice highways airports their delivery partners use. Then there's having to deal with customs and entry inspections... That can get pesky. Especially if the governmeny of the country you're shipping to is seriously pissed at you for something like...dunno...moving away and taking jobs and money with you?

So relocating isn't really a viable option. Especially since it also moves them away from their customers.

I think you'd be more likely to see Amazon open a facility in Antarctica before you'd see them physically exit the USA.

Of course, if China were to really take off, that's not to say they couldn't abandon the US market after everybody got laid off because there was no work (and therefor had no money to spend)  and relocate to Asia.

 Cool
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 01:07:24 PM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2011, 11:23:29 PM »

I found these articles on the subject. What opinions do you people have on them:

Quote
But today I click on my newsfeed and see tumbleweed blowing through the barren, blank page. It’s a vast and empty wasteland, full of people who signed up but never actually stuck around to figure out how things worked in this new part of town. One simple click takes me back to Facebook, and my wall is flooded with updates and pictures from 400+ friends. This just isn’t a contest, and it never will be. 

A Eulogy for Google Plus

Chiming in with a different social network
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wraith808
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2011, 11:36:46 AM »

Quote
But today I click on my newsfeed and see tumbleweed blowing through the barren, blank page. It’s a vast and empty wasteland, full of people who signed up but never actually stuck around to figure out how things worked in this new part of town. One simple click takes me back to Facebook, and my wall is flooded with updates and pictures from 400+ friends. This just isn’t a contest, and it never will be.  

A Eulogy for Google Plus

I think he was a bit premature, and his experience wasn't everone's experience.  Look at his profile *now* to see the difference...  he was comparing it to FB, and G+ isn't meant to be a competitor to FB, and never was.  The competition was in his mind alone... people have been iterating this fact more months now.  And the iteration of features is more reasoned than FB's throw stuff at you approach.   The only thing G+ needs in my opinion is a way to save articles to read for later, a la Read it Later or InstaPaper; though I can click through on the ones that are link sharing, sometimes there's something directly on G+ that I want to read later.

UPDATE:

Two later responses from the same author-
A Second Chance for Google+
The Rise of the Google+ Faithful

At this point, I don't know if the other article was to gain followers/attention on Google+  ohmy

A couple of pointed responses to his first article.

(At least it was going to be a couple of links... the permalink function isn't working.  But click on page 4 and there's a really good rebuttal)
« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 11:45:43 AM by wraith808 » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: October 19, 2011, 11:50:14 AM »

It really depends what the definitions and expectations are, if Google higher ups are sitting there with corporate 'projections' matching facebook numbers then we can all safely say Google+ does need a eulogy. If they are willing to ride it out and keep growing naturally there is zero chance Google+ is going anywhere.
There are entire marketing campaigns where companies are not even mentioning company.com they are only promoting facebook.com/company - and bringing in Likes all over. It's very difficult to break that, this is not a case of people leaving Myspace for facebook anymore. facebook has a much bigger hold across many demographics, entities, groups, etc.
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« Reply #21 on: October 19, 2011, 12:03:28 PM »

The only thing G+ needs in my opinion is a way to save articles to read for later, a la Read it Later or InstaPaper; though I can click through on the ones that are link sharing, sometimes there's something directly on G+ that I want to read later.

Create a circle, name it .Save (".Read Later," ".Keep These," or whatever) with a period at the beginning so that it will show up first. Copy yourself to that circle. Then simply 'share' those posts you want to revisit later. (Although it'd be nice if there were a button for this. I think there's an extension, but I didn't try it.)
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wraith808
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« Reply #22 on: October 19, 2011, 01:40:44 PM »

Create a circle, name it .Save (".Read Later," ".Keep These," or whatever) with a period at the beginning so that it will show up first. Copy yourself to that circle. Then simply 'share' those posts you want to revisit later. (Although it'd be nice if there were a button for this. I think there's an extension, but I didn't try it.)

Nice.  Thanks!

UPDATE: so after you posted this, I looked into a couple of ways to integrate G+ with other services using the e-mail function.

Evernote: I created an evernote circle, and added the e-mail address associated with adding notes via e-mail (see evernote settings) to the circle.  Works perfectly!

Read It Later: RIL actually has an e-mail function- send the e-mail to add@readitlaterlist.com.  But you have to verify the e-mail address that notes will be coming from, and since G+ alerts are sent from a no-reply e-mail (unique to your profile, but still...) there's no way to verify it.  I posted a support ticket on it to see if there's a way around that.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 02:04:24 PM by wraith808 » Logged

JavaJones
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« Reply #23 on: October 19, 2011, 11:23:42 PM »

G+ is frankly still in early stages I'd say. Where is the Events system (integrated with Google Calendar)? Where are company pages? As soon as these and a few other major features of FB make it onto G+, there will be another big surge. Surprisingly, FB's event system still pretty much sucks (can I have it email me a reminder of events? no. is there a simple calendar view of events I'm invited to? no. etc.). Google can leverage the power of existing GCalendar for this, just as an example. For businesses, Google already has "Places", integrate that with G+ and you have a powerful platform for companies to relate to their customers.  I'm honestly surprised Hangouts haven't gotten more attention actually, especially as it gains features. It's more powerful as a business tool than a personal tool now actually. They should introduce shared photo album viewing like the new Flickr feature and then promote Hangouts as a killer feature (because it is). Now I'm not saying Google will do all this, but they're sensible steps with powerful potential.

Basically I think it's foolish to compare G+ now to FB now (yes, even though they are theoretically competing in the same market already). All it takes is one or two "must have" new features and a few more related population explosions to gain critical mass. Many people use FB primarily for photo sharing and event organizing. Right now G+ only has 1 of those functions. Introduce the other and it makes a big difference, people no longer have to split their attention. This is especially true since G+, unlike FB, can optionally share with people by email address only, so it can be an excellent event organizer even if your friends aren't on it.

So bring on the new features Google! Let's hope you have a better "platform vision" than Mr. Yegge fears.

- Oshyan
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