NEWS ANALYSIS: Google is being criticized for its focus on social networking, but the fact is, the company has done a lot right with its social push.
has been hit extremely hard in an article written by former employee James
Whittaker. He argues that Google, which he left recently to join Microsoft, has
lost its core vision and has become a company that focuses solely on
advertising and forces itself into "a single corporate-mandated focus"
that he didn't want to be a part of any longer. It was a shocking criticism of
the search giant, and it indicated that things might not be so great in
Mountain View, Calif.
of Whittaker's chief complaints was Google's new social network, Google+. He
argues that it was the breaking point that pulled Google in a new direction
toward the aforementioned "mandate" and blamed CEO Larry Page for
focusing Google's efforts on social networking and advertising and not the
entrepreneurial spirit that made the search giant so special.
it's difficult to say if Google's
corporate culture has changed
as dramatically as Whittaker says, it's
important to note that despite his issues with the company, Google has done a
lot of good for the social-networking world.
1. Admit its mistakes
Google Buzz? It was Google's first major foray into the social-networking market,
and failed miserably. It was hit with privacy issues, poor integration and a
host of other flaws that set it back. Soon after, Google realized that it was
making a mistake with Buzz and all but killed it before officially announcing
so. However, the best part is, Google didn't commit the same mistakes with
2. Who needs a Facebook clone?
could have very easily walked into the social-networking space with a Facebook
clone and attracted at least some users. However, with Google+, the
company decided to break out of the box
, calling it first a social "project"
and delivering really neat ideas, like Circles. Google+ is not a Facebook
clone, and Google should be commended for that.
3. Video, video, video
was arguably the first social network to truly understand the value of video
chatting with friends from a social site. The move was such a smart one, in fact,
that Facebook was forced to partner with Skype and bring video calling to its
service to catch up. Kudos to Google for realizing the value of video in social
4. Integration: Controversial, but smart
advocates can say what they want about integration, and Google
putting its many services into the same pane
to enhance the chances of
users accessing them, but it went a long way in improving its social network's
adoption. Like it or not, Google is running a business. And integrating Google+
into search and Gmail was a smart business decision.