Cloud Computing: Google`s Schmidt Handing CEO Reins to Page: 10 Gains and Losses
Google's Schmidt Handing CEO Reins to Page: 10 Gains and Losses
by Clint Boulton
We blame Schmidt for Google's big lag behind Facebook in social. We feel Schmidt, with his enterprise-oriented background from Sun Microsystems and Novell, has been too slow to respond to the social network's growth. Google felt the sting in 2010 after Google Buzz failed to garner the positive response the company wished for the social conversation service. The social strategy overall has been loose and disjointed.
Google grabbed the cool cachet by whipping up on Microsoft the last few years. But, it lost its mojo with its failings in social and the perception that, under Schmidt, Google had become too corporate and too bureaucratic. This reverberated throughout the company as young engineers and up-and-coming executives jumped ship for Facebook. More than 200 former Googlers have joined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's talented team, perhaps none bigger than COO Sheryl Sandberg. She is pictured here with Zuckerberg.
Page and Brin, who is leading Google projects and spearheading Google's social efforts, have the potential to loosen Google from its social mire. Brin, Page and talent grabbed from social software acquisitions will hunker down and make sure Google puts forth something special in the social sphere. Is it Google+1? Perhaps, but we expect more than just information-sharing. Expect Games and local offers with a social bent. As Brin said on the earnings call last week: "we've only touched one percent of what" the blending of social with search can achieve. Page and Brin could make Google a social powerhouse.
Less Cavalier Talk
Schmidt put many people off, particularly privacy advocates, with his seemingly flippant statements about user privacy. There's this classic comment to CNBC's Maria Bartiromo in December 2009: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." Statements such as these prompted Consumer Watchdog to jab Schmidt with this evil ice cream man video. That Schmidt no longer be in a position to make such statements as Googles chief spokesperson will help the company's public image.
Schmidt: The Voice of Candor
On the other hand, Google loses the candor and color that Schmidt provides. While this could be grating for some, it made many media members feel Schmidt, as the face of Google, was being forthcoming. This in turn made some reporters less likely to dig into, or be critical of the company. Notoriously media-shy Page is taciturn and noncommittal about many things. Interacting with him is not likely to be a fun exercise for any reporter. Media members may put more effort into digging around Google's wall of information to find dirt and other tasty bits from the Googleplex if they feel the Page regime is keeping too quiet. This goes double for government regulators. If they feel Page, who prefers not explain himself, is taking them too lightly, they could come down on the company.
Wherefore Google Apps
Schmidt was an enterprise computing-oriented CEO leading a consumer tech company. Page is all consumer tech, all of the time, which begs the question: what happens to Google Apps? We don't see Page doing much to support this effort, which is used by 30 million-plus people and 3 million businesses. Google Apps doesn't account for a whole lot of revenue at Google-perhaps 1 to 2 percent-so it's easy to see how Page would axe it.
Shedding Google Apps would essentially cede the cloud computing collaboration software market to Microsoft. This bodes well for Microsoft Office 360, the Web-based document, presentation and spreadsheet software suite the software giant offers as an alternative to Google Apps. Microsoft has the enterprise credibility to withstand any other rival.
To that end, Google and Schmidt have expressed a desire to make Chrome OS a significant keyboard-based computing platform in the enterprise, effectively becoming the third leg in a stool that includes Microsoft Windows and Linux. With Schmidt's enterprise savoir faire, will Page be able to, for example, convince Citrix and other key enterprise players that Chrome OS is a viable platform. We're skeptical.
We credit Schmidt, and of course chief Android creator Andy Rubin, with helping Android grow and succeed. Without Schmidt's maturity, business savvy and steady guidance, we don't believe Google would have struck such a major deal with Verizon Wireless to put Android front and center in the popular Droid line. We are concerned how Android will progress without Schmidt guiding those relationships with carriers, though perhaps he will continue to act in this capacity as executive chairman. We are also uncertain how Google will weather the patent infringement lawsuits levied against Android by Oracle.
Android is a great segue to the next and final point. Schmidt embodied the competitive spirit of Google. He was buddy-buddy with Apple CEO Steve Jobs and an Apple board member. But he didn't tell Jobs about Android, keeping that competitive grenade close to the vest. Schmidt also succeeded in making people believe Microsoft's leviathan on-premise software business was for the age of the dinosaurs. Schmidt is on shakier ground with Facebook, never fully giving the Website its due. But how will Page handle competition? We don't really know. When he was last a company commander, search engines like Yahoo we're trying to buy his startup. The market has evolved. The unanswered question is: has Page evolved with it?