Really interesting read on Business Week on Google’s hype but lack of actual market delivery on many of its products beyond its flagship Search.
The stats cited (assuming they’re accurate) are really eye-opening:
Google Talk, an instant-messaging service launched last August, now ranks No. 10, garnering just 2% of the number of users for market leader MSN Messenger, according to comScore Media Metrix. Three-month-old Google Finance, heralded as a competitor to market leader Yahoo! Finance, has settled in as the 40th-most-visited finance site, according to data from Hitwise, a competitive intelligence firm. Gmail, the e-mail service that was lauded at its 2004 launch for offering 500 times as much storage space as some rivals (they quickly closed the gap), today is the system of choice for only about one-quarter the number of people who use MSN and Yahoo e-mail…
…Take Orkut, Google’s two-year-old social-networking site. Since making an initial splash, Orkut has seen limited changes and has faded in popularity everywhere except Brazil. Today it draws less than 1% as much U.S. traffic as MySpace.
The article does admit that there are some great successes to tout, like Google Maps. But in general, despite some really fancy technology and cool features, they can’t reach the marketshare they want.
Clearly, Google is still a successful company and every company out there would love the level of press coverage (read: hype) and batting average that Google has (Homestead included). But I think the facts show what many of us already believed: while it is a great technology company and great recruiting company, it’s currently only a decent product company and a worse product marketing company. Oh, and they’re run by engineers.
As Don Dodge writes, their products’ success “depends on how much effort Google puts into making them better, and how much real value they deliver to users”.
Also, given the unbelievably favorable opinion that the blogosphere (and Internet industry in general) has of Google and everything it touches, the fact that most of their launches haven’t gotten much traction reminds us of something else. It reminds us that most of the world doesn’t listen to us.
Update: The discussion continues: Michael Parekh focuses on how Google and the others can better market these hyped products.