Six of the Best: The 'Has Google jumped the shark?' edition ~ Brand Mix

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Six of the Best: The 'Has Google jumped the shark?' edition

Photo: Google Classic by dullhunk on Flickr

Remember the days when Google was all about search? Well, they're gone. Just this week, Google launched Buzz, a social networking service and announced plans to build an ultra-fast consumer broadband network. It has to do something with all of its money and it's doing it. So, is this the week that heralded the beginning of the end for Facebook and all broadband networks or is this week where Google finally strayed too far from its knitting?

1) Participate, don't Spectate - Google uses White Space: The Phoenix Principle
Adam Hartung makes the case for why Google getting into all these new ventures makes sense. Speaking specifically about Buzz, he says that Google is a "participant" not a "spectator" jumping into the market to try it out, learn and see if there's a way to make sales and profits. He calls s Buzz: "Another stereotypical White Space entry into the market. A product with a lot of possibilities, looking for how to fit into a quickly shifting market, teaching Google more about the marketplace and aiding the company toward maintaining its torrid growth pace."

2) Google risks losing focus amid expansion, analysts say: Computerworld
And the other perspective is: "Google Inc. is a search company that is expanding out from its core business - way out." This article was written back in January when the hot Google news of the day was the Google-branded and designed mobile phone, the Nexus One. None of the analysts interviewed were ready to go on the record with an unequivocal critique of the growth strategy. Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, was the bravest but even he had a caveat: "When a company participates in a bunch of different markets, there's always the risk that they might lose focus and start to slip in all of their markets. While Google certainly faces this risk, they have a pretty good track record of cutting their losses and bailing out on loser opportunities while sticking with the winners."

3) Facebook To Launch Gmail Killer (?):
As Google expands its business into new territories, it find itself coming up against new competitors who are expanding their services as well. This post from Ian Schafer reports on Facebook's plans to launch its version of Gmail. As he says: "Email now, mobile payments later. Email is a huge key to unlocking the full identity association treasure chest. Watch this space." The whole pot is getting stirred up, it seems.

4) ThirdWay Most Effective Ad of the Super Bowl: Google Parisian Love: ThirdWay

The Google Super Bowl Ad got generally very positive reviews with many rating as the best or one of the best ads. David Vinjamuri likes the ad: "Because it is simple, because the execution is tied directly to the brand (unlike other memorable spots, this one you can’t remember without knowing it was for Google), because it tells a story, and because it is a powerful reminder of how Google has changed our lives." I liked the ad too but, in the context of shark jumping, I wonder if its another sign of Google's business evolution.

5) Google's Buzz, Twitter, and the Semi-Public Life: Justin Fox (HBR)
Justin wonders whether Buzz and other social media are a smart use of time and brain cells. he's decidedly on the fence. He worries, in particular, whether: "All the effort of building up a Twitter following is likely to go to waste when something better comes along" but decides that he agrees with Steven Berlin Johnson's take that: "The history of the Internet suggests that there have been cool Web sites that go in and out of fashion and then there have been open standards that become plumbing. Twitter is looking more and more like plumbing, and plumbing is eternal."

6) Introducing the Street View snowmobile: Google Maps

OK. This is cool. Just in time for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Google kitted out a snowmobile to map Whistler's ski slopes. The maps and imagery are included a special website that provides lots of other information about the Games.

That's it! Back soon with more stories from the world of brand strategy (and vaguely related areas). More thoughts and comments also available on Twitter (@martinjbishop).

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