Naina KhedekarNov 10, 2016 08:00:23 IST
After uncertainty over a host of Google projects like Nest, Verily, autonomous cars and the eventual wipe out of Glass, it's ambitious delivery-drone Project Wing (that targets Amazon's Prime Air) seems to be next in line. There are ugly reports floating online about how hiring at Project Wing has been frozen and managers have been shown the door, fueling rumours about how yet another Google X project will be lost in the wild, or probably die sooner than expected.
Google has its hands in too many pots or pies or whatever you'd like to call it. But, clearly, Google's desire to be omnipresent isn't really working well for the company.
Failing Google X projects
The moonshots have fired back! Those who have been following the smart home segment closely won't forget the drama that unfolded when Google-acquired Nest. From failing to build new products, controversy surrounding employees to eventually Tony Fadell stepping down, we've seen it all. The Dropcam founder even went on to say that selling his company to Nest was a big mistake, when Fadell started blaming inefficiency of employees for the failure. All in all, the ambitious smart home project, without a flagship product has lost its way, at least for now.
It was soon followed by uncertainty of the final product at Verily. So, remember the famous Google smart lenses? Verily is the new name given to the project by the research and development unit. The smart lenses will measure glucose levels in diabetics by analysing their tears and were believed to make way into the market before 2019. But, Health and medicine publication, Stat, said that the glucose-detecting smart contact lens for diabetics may not be a reality anytime soon. But that's a point of view of the outsiders. It's worrisome when the people within the team aren't convinced. The report also said that former employees aren’t even sure if it will ever see the light of day. Chief Andrew Conrad is said to believe in working at unimaginable things, and some term it 'faith-based science' that could get very expensive at some point.
Google also suspended Project Ara, the ambitious modular phone project. The move was said to be an attempt to streamline Google’s hardware offerings and came around the same time it decided to kill the once-affordable Nexus lineup for Pixel. This reminds us of the time when Google announced the $2.9 billion sale of Google-owned Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, it didn't include the Advanced Technology and Projects group that included the Project Ara modular phone concept. Then, there was Google Glass. The last we heard was how the company is erasing all data related to Google Glass from social channels. Google stopped selling the $1,500 Glass device last year. But the company is said to be working on another eye-wear project dubbed Project Aura.
Driverless cars seem to be the most sensible among its Google X projects. But, many people don't see a future for autonomous cars until 2025. Moreover, cars are usually associated with brands, and tech companies like Apple (except Tesla) seem to be slowing down in their approach towards this segment. Internally, things aren't well for Google too. Chris Urmson, the man who made the project go from 100,000 miles of self-driving to 1.8 million miles, which does include a few accidents here and there, has quit the company.
Knowing your online users
Google has its roots deep into search, keeping people informed and connecting people, something that its advertisements ride on. But, we have entered the mobile age, and a company that dominates the world with its Android OS should know it better. When it comes to mobile advertisements, Google has the major chunk with its booming mobile business at 32 percent. Facebook is following at 19 percent, a comparatively smaller but substantial number. However, the latter has been inching forward and closing the gap and the numbers are only expected to grow. At the same time, Google seems to be reaching a stagnancy. Facebook's focus has been mobile ads and increasing numbers, but Google has its foot all over the place with the numerous subsidiaries that are a part of Alphabet.
It was back in 2013 that reports claimed that Google and Yahoo could learn a thing or two from Facebook when it comes to mobile ad growth. Fast forward to January 2016 and Facebook hasn't disappointed. Facebook has potential to introduce business to their customers with a very targeted approach (something many may not like), and Google hasn't been able to deliver on that front. Facebook is striving to become the go-to place for your searches. After all, don't we consume most of the news on social channels? Facebook Live is an instant hit and Google's YouTube, which had great potential for pioneering live streams, hasn't really made great strides on that front.
Back to basics
Google, unlike Facebook or any other company, is more seasoned. It is responsible for setting a work culture that many outside Google envy. Taking a risk into other popular segments has also paid off for it in the past. However, it now seems to be busy drying its coffers testing waters in almost every other sphere that may simply fade off to attain the dream of a sci-fi like future. Google should focus on its strengths — mobile, search and advertising. Innovation is the way to evolution, but only when the major focus is your core strength.
With saturating developed markets, companies have begun looking at emerging markets like India and China. An autonomous car or a smart lens may be of little to no significance to the emerging markets, at least right now. So, a rather low focus on such aspects and a better way to re-introduce projects like Android One or nifty software services could do better for the company.