With Google’s Wave dying out, recent Application customer losses to Microsoft, and their Social Networking efforts falling further behind Facebook and Twitter, it is clear that Google has a problem delivering User Focused Value through their application & social networking platforms.
Google’s Downward Slide
While Google Apps and Google Social efforts lag, analyst Lou Kerner recently suggested that the era of Google’s dominance in Search and Advertising might also be over, as social networking site Facebook continue to be the portal for web users to access other web sites.
“Google is making the vast majority of its revenue on a pay-per-click basis to drive traffic to web sites,” wrote Wedbush analyst Lou Kerner, in a note to clients. “Given its huge base of over 500 million members, the majority of which log on every day, Facebook is already driving more traffic to some leading web sites and it is poised to dramatically grow its share of traffic generation just based on clicks from user news feeds.”
Google shares are down 21 percent this year, underperforming long-time competitor Yahoo, which is down 17 percent. Kerner initiated Google with an ‘underperform,’ making him just the second analyst to put a ‘sell’ on the stock. The average price target for Google among analysts is $626, while Kerner’s values the search leader at just $525.
Google Apps’ Broken Link
Google has grown and expanded from their single search service to four service areas, Search, Ads, Apps and Mobile. As Google added services, they relied (mostly) on their practice of internal innovation driven by small teams of Engineers to develop these systems. This practice works well with Search related services, such as Search, Ads and Mobile (Android primarily remains a search tool that launches apps), where user expectations of value are limited to the retrieval of relevant information.
Unfortunately, internal innovation driven by small teams of Engineers is not a great practice for developing Application and Social Networking services where User Value is determined by a myriad of variable such as ease of use, efficient interactions, and security.
“Google has never come out with any [social networking product] where the experience drove it,” says Jared Spool, founding principal of User Interface Engineering, a consulting firm based in North Andover, MA. “It was always the technology and the engineering that drove it–the experience was sort-of layered on afterward.”
Reference Source: MIT Technology Review
A Strategic Focus on User Value
Google Wave is the latest example of a Google Application that didn’t offer any real value to the user.
Hopefully the lesson they will learn is that solving the problems of HOW does not guarantee user adoption, and to be successful they must adopt a Strategic Focus on User Value where the combined values of market focus and distinguishing capabilities provide strategically focused user value.