February 2, 2012

Against the Wall

Marco Arment connects the dots in Google's long-term slide from stand-out tech startup to dominant yet flailing giant:

“People with very strong values can maintain their standards and dignity even under immense pressure. But that’s no easy feat. And every time we get a peek into Google’s leadership, from intentional patent infringement and anticompetitive aggression to selling out net neutrality and now tarnishing search relevance, it’s increasingly clear that Google’s upper management is willing to do a lot of “evil”, even by Google’s own previous standards, to get their way when they’re not winning.“

Google, in the persons of Brin and Page, embodied what geeks aspire to: two smart guys with a great idea, building it in a garage and wildly succeeding. They're Hewlett and Packard, Gates and Allen, Jobs and Woz for the modern age.

Google has become HP, Microsoft and Apple, and not in a good way. Like those companies, they'll begin putting out crappy products at some point. Not products that don't catch on, like Wave, but truly crappy stuff like Microsoft Bob and many of the peripheral products Apple produced in the early nineties. Perhaps there will be a corporate executive revolving door, a la HP over the past decade.

Microsoft has found redemption in Windows Phone 7 and 8, and Windows 7. Their Office product is a productivity mainstay. Apple returned to greatness, creating insanely great products like the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air. We're still waiting to see what HP does with itself. The key for the former two was heads-down hard work, with no shortcuts. Why can't the Googlers see that?