“The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate,” Whittaker explains. “The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus. Technically I suppose Google has always been an advertising company, but for the better part of the last three years, it didn’t feel like one. Google was an ad company only in the sense that a good TV show is an ad company: having great content attracts advertisers.”
Whittaker writes, “It turns out that there was one place where the Google innovation machine faltered and that one place mattered a lot: competing with Facebook. Informal efforts produced a couple of antisocial dogs in Wave and Buzz… Larry Page himself assumed command to right this wrong. Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point. Even worse was that innovation had to be social. Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were a distraction.”
“Officially, Google declared that ‘sharing is broken on the web’ and nothing but the full force of our collective minds around Google+ could fix it,” Whittaker explains. “As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn’t part of it. People were sharing all around us and seemed quite happy. A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn’t even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, ‘social isn’t a product,’ she told me after I gave her a demo, ‘social is people and the people are on Facebook.’ Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: We just popped over to Google+ (hadn’t been there in months). It’s like a totally empty, lavishly furnished luxury hotel. While looking at lots of white emptiness, we have half expected Jack Nicholson to axe his way through our screens, stick his head through and announce, “Here’s Johnny!”