Google: Less is More?
Muhammad is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Search giant Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has made the decision to trim some of its less appealing product offerings. Don’t worry, Chrome OS isn’t going anywhere, but programs that have little to no future are leaving, such as Google Listen, Google Apps for Teams, and Google Video for Business.
The chances that many people used these programs are slim to none, and that’s ok. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has famously made programs it didn’t know what to do with or quietly discontinued, or revamped as a new service. A current example would be the company’s failed attempt at cloud computing MobileMe, which CEO Steve Jobs dubbed ‘Not our finest hour’, after a few years on the market. The project of course was quickly scrapped and removed from the market. You still don’t believe me? What about iChat, Export Keynote to Flash, iPod Firewire, Ping, yes we forgot Apple made a bunch of quiet mistakes on the way up.
The idea of celebrating a company’s failures can sound taboo to say the least; no one buys stock after hearing a product failed miserably and the company will be ending it. But the truth is that while we are quick to admit failure leads to success, when looking at the market it is much harder to put it into practice.
I personally enjoy seeing companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), make bold decisions that could potentially erode relationships and be colossal failures. This kind of thinking is what got us Gmail and the iPhone; of course in hindsight these are great ideas but do we remember the complaints? Reporters used to refer to the iPhone’s lack of a keyboard as controversial. Or Bill Gates’ rant that Gmail used too much space and made no sense from both a user’s and business perspective.
A while back, I showed relief that Nokia (NYSE: NOK) was shunned from Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform. It was not good news for new buyers, but in the annual upgrade cycle we live in cell phones come and go. The better part was that Microsoft took the chance of upgrading their experience for users and producing a better product along the way. The first iPhone did not have multi-tasking, apps, video recording, or many other useful features. They could have been included, technically speaking, but weren’t nonetheless, and in hindsight it was a good idea to avoid it.
Google has long been made the center of jokes about products that never get finished or stay in beta for eternity. The company actually has a decent sense of humor about these instances and even allows users to switch their Gmail back to beta. The switch only changes the logo to say beta, but users love the feature and many turn it on to poke fun at Google.
But what is wrong with developing products and then just throwing them out there? All the focus groups on the planet are not likely to predict the products of the future, that’s for these guys to do, tell us what we need.
To do that, companies must try bold decisions and be prepared for the consequences. A bad example of this was when Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) tried to dump the DVD business. It was a great idea and a smart move. The company needed to show people why streaming was better, the next move should have been to start educating people about set top boxes and even offering to subsidize them.
Instead the company was met with hot headed customers that demanded to cancel their subscriptions unless the company brought back the DVD plan. The company made changes in the background to disable the DVD side from streaming only plans, and raised the price of its current DVD offering. The end result was a lack of confidence and upset consumers.
But why worry about what people want to begin with? In May of 2011, Google launched the Chrome Book, a network operated machine that has no DVD burner and relies heavily on the Internet. Users may miss their DVD burners but with a network-based machine you’ll never notice it is missing, and that’s the beauty of improvement.
muhammadbazil owns shares of Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Google and Nokia. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.