Sunday, July 05, 2009

Google Strategy

Google has three main strategic product categories.

Google has login-based services, like Gmail. These are most like other companies' internet services. They also have the most lock-in effect, though Google expends some effort to reduce it (for example allowing downloading and forwarding away email messages). These services enrich Google search data with user identity data.

Google has internet growth services, like Chrome, Android, and News. In general, companies would like to reduce "substitutes" and increase "complements". Since Google has dominant marketshare of internet search, anything that increases internet use is a complement. Google can run ads on all of these services, and to varying degrees their users are more likely to be Google search users. Developing these services is also a little like Military Keynesianism. It gives Google engineers fun projects to work on, helping Google to get and keep top engineers, who help it to maintain its internet search dominance.

Google has the internet. Since Google is the king of search, it will vigorously defend the internet against closed competing networks like the new social networks Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. At least three distinct Google projects, though they also occupy the second category, attempt to open up the social software world: Social Graph API, Open Social, and Wave. This makes Google "the good guys," because they'll always try to bring the fight to the open web, where they have the competitive advantage. Now, if Google didn't have a challenger, it might just release something into the first category (Orkut for example), but when they do have a competitor, everyone will end up being a lot better off. Wave promises to be a wonderful open technology, though it will put a lot of social software companies out of business.