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How long has it been since Google wowed you with a new product?

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How Long Has It Been Since Google Wowed You With A New Product?
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How long has it been since Google wowed you with a new product? by Marshallunduemi(): Fri 01, May, 2020
Reading about Google’s latest efforts to launch a new instant messaging product, a segment where its chaotic strategy has failed over and over again, I wondered how long it’s been since Google offered us something with the wow factor, something that we just couldn’t live without?

There was a time when Google was an innovation factory, constantly coming out with new products. The Wikipedia page about Google’s product portfolio charts the story: after creating its eponymous search engine, the company came up with all kinds of products that many of us still use: Images, Books, Scholar, Finance and many others that were basically interesting approaches based on the idea of an applied search, a logical way of innovating based on the recognition that when you’re good at something, apply it to every context you can. Some of these products also came from employees who spent 20% of their time on personal projects, as was the case with Gmail, Google News, Google Docs or the failed Orkut. But the company produced more, much more: Google Translate, which continues to improve every day, for example, as can be everything related to the field of advertising, Android, maps or video — although in some cases these were the result of acquisitions rather than innovation processes as such.

But since those exciting times, which began to dwindle sometime during the first decade of the century, what has Google launched that has enjoyed widespread adoption? Not that this means the company does not innovate: it does, and a lot, but that innovation does not engender new services, and is instead typically embedded in other products as constant incremental improvements or is perceived as the application of technologies such as machine learning to the entire range of its services. We could talk about Google Classroom, a brilliant application of technologies to teaching that seems to be enjoying a certain level of popularity in US schools, but neither is it, as such, a product aimed at the end user or whose adoption depends on it. As such, we users, who used to see a constant flow of products and services emerging from the multicolored logo factory and who systematically tried and adopted them, have long since stopped receiving anything with the big G logo. Google Keep? Not exactly a stronghold of innovation. Maybe Stadia, with its amazingly low latency and speed, but that’s pretty much all about it…

I use quite a few Google products, but for the most part, I adopted them many, many years ago, and although I can sometimes see improvements — if not the other way around, Google eventually lets them wither on the vine or just removes them from its. As well as using the search engine, I also manage my email with Gmail, my agenda with Calendar, my website traffic with Analytics, documents with Google Docs, my mailing list with Feedburner and I talk to my family through Hangout… but again, these are products that have been around for many years, and that in the last two cases, Google has converted into abandonware or said it intends to eliminate them.

Then there are the many disappointments with products I once used, such as Google Reader, but which the company decided to abandon for no other reason than poor management prioritization. In fact, one of my problems now is that if Google were to launch a new product, I would have to think long and hard about whether to use it, because of the risk of it being abandoned a few years down the road.

When I created my personal page, I did so because Google had announced the acquisition of Pyra Labs, the creators of Blogger, and I thought that meant that more people would start using and creating blogs. They did, but not thanks to Google, which simply let Blogger die, while Matt Mullenweg and WordPress took the lead. At that time, Google regularly provided me with opportunities to write about its products, about how they amazed the world by redefining email and offering gigantic storage, about how it had launched a tool developed internally to manage its calendar, about a new social network with different approaches… many products, but also many failures. One of the principles of innovation is to fail well, but neglect ends up taking its toll, particularly on developers.

What was the last really successful product to emerge from Google’s factory that wasn’t an acquisition? The launch of new products maybe just one indicator of the many that measure innovation, but my impression is that Google’s failure to launch new products has a negative impact on how people perceive the company. Okay, Google’s share price value puts it in the trillion dollar category, but is it really innovating, or just cranking out its usual products and making incremental improvements that users rarely notice? Whatever happened to Google’s oh-so-celebrated innovation strategy?

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How Long Has It Been Since Google Wowed You With A New Product?

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