Are Google losing their innovative power? Should they split?

Despite how the 1000s of amazing and brilliant people they have, Google really have not done anything innovative in years and years. They might tweak their algorithms but they are still an ad company with a search engine. That’s what has made them the megabucks and allowed them to buy into being ad partners with mySpace and AOL and to buy YouTube.

They’ve branched out and bought radio ad companies and are even trying to serve ads to cable customers but frankly have so far made no impact at all. (While this was in draft they announced a deal with radio monopoly Clearchannel.) Blogger/Blogspot is a total piece of shit and is full to the brim with spam (77% of all blogs on Google’s Blogspot service were spam) and yet they do nothing about it. As was pointed out, seems to be quite spam free, possibly because they don’t allow ads.

It seems Google can’t keep the people they bought in through various acquisitions with the blogger people leaving, the dMarc people and most recently the Dodgeball founders left while making a scathing statement about Google as they did.

I’m still a big fan of Google but it seems nowadays they are doing nothing more than adding new coats of paints to their service, more than doing anything fantastic. Big company disease as Robert Scoble points out. Fred Wilson makes a very valid (and sad) point.

Google’s lawyers are going to become their most important asset and when lawyers are more important than engineers to a company, you lose.

Are Google just a one-hit wonder who are still gaining because of the long-tail? Are they already at the nadir of innovation? Video search is still shite unless you tag, as in audio. 10 years later and Google has not nearly tackled this. Maybe their freephone directory service will allow them gather enough voice samples so that they’ll be able to tackle audio. I’m actually a fan of Google but more and more they are looking just like Microsoft and other big tech corporations. I wonder does that scare the shit out of them because what it means is they’ll be out-Googled themselves some day. Perhaps they should split the company into a Search/SearchR&D company and an ad/content creation company.

Update: John Ward in the comments puts it succintly:

Google is built around search working, google’s revenue model is built around search not working.

10 Responses to “Are Google losing their innovative power? Should they split?”

  1. Doug Wampler says:

    Your grammar is not correct. Google is singular “it” not “they”. Is Google losing its innovative power? Should it split? They answer, no.

  2. David Doran says:

    I disagree – Google is a search engine with an ad business.
    Sure it wouldn’t be rolling it dough without the ad business but it still has a tremendous search-engine which started it all.

  3. Johnmryan says:

    What about Google Docs, Gmail, Google Reader, Google Maps, these are all Relativly new google inventions, but i do think that Google, is making some strange moves, Youtube for example – just seems to be a gateway to lawsuits, and there expansion to radio television and print ads… do they really know where their company is heading… maybe its world domination ….

  4. Stephen says:

    A good topic to create a stir Damien, but what did catch my eye was your thoughts on blogspot, yes it has turned into a pile of S**t, still if it wasn’t for blogspot I wouldn’t have started blogging and at the end of the day it is free and the most versatile.

    Saying that I have turned away from blogspot and host my own, so yes they need to be careful but none the less they have some superb products in their portfolio just imagine if the charged for them!

  5. Well, yeah, but the search engine’s still much less shit than all the others, innit?

  6. […] Damien Mulley Invisible people have invisible rights « Are Google losing their innovative power? Should they split? […]

  7. John says:


    Google is built around search working, google’s revenue model is built around search not working.

    Think about that. As long as the standard search is bringing back largely irrelevant results users will click on adds. I always found this at odds with itself.

    If users could find exactly what they were looking for every time where’s the revenue. Cold economics could be stifling real innovation inside googleplex.


  8. I must say, I quite like Blogger; I certainly find it far more usable than I did WordPress.

    Google is still, though, doing a lot better than its two big rivals (MSN and Yahoo). Have you taken a look at Yahoo’s services lately? Uniformly dreadful; the AdWords equivalent and a few of their acquisitions are marginally less horrible, but that’s it.

  9. Damien,

    Have to disagree totally with you (disclosure: iQ are Google Enterprise partners they’re putting me up in Madrid on Sunday and Monday night, ahem).

    Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Maps and Analytics – all free and all, IMHO, excellent.

    I leave you with some words from Jonathan Schwartz, CEO Sun Microsystem, when using Google Maps on his Blackberry, described it thus:

    “The grace with which it works comes close to a religious experience”.

  10. Damien says:

    Email, maps, documents are all shiny little things. They are not in themselves anything ground-breaking. They just improved on things or sometimes, did not. Google documents is amazingly basic. GMail is handy but nothing that I can’t live without. The maps are great but again, nothing mind-blowing.

    They built a great search engine before it got spammed, but nowadays all they do are buy content companies or build widgety type applications that allow you to create more content so they can slap more ads on them. They’ve just been capitalising on having a big audience with itty bitty new things. Were any of these things (apart from maps) offered at the same time as they started with the search engine, they’d barely be used.