Google Watch

The latest news bites emanating from the Googleplex.

Farewell, Google Watch

This is my final post on Google Watch. Today, I've moved on to the next leg of my career at the Wall Street Journal, where I'll be writing content for CIO Journal. So Google will move from the center of my coverage galaxy to somewhere on the periphery.

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This is my final post on Google Watch. Today, I've moved on to the next leg of my career at the Wall Street Journal, where I'll be writing content for CIO Journal.

So Google will move from the center of my coverage galaxy to somewhere on the periphery. The company continues to ply its trade versus Amazon in platform-as-a-service (PAAS) and Microsoft with Google Apps. These are solutions CIOs must consider as they seek to cut costs and offload resource management.

I can't tell you who, if anyone at all, will keep Google Watch going in my place. That's for Quin Street, which acquired my former company Ziff Davis Enterprise last month, to decide.

Depending on your perspective, this could be Google's most exciting time, or it's most dreadful time. It's certainly been painful for me to watch Google of late, all prefaced by some serious highs and lows.

I remember thinking back in 2007 when Google's stock crashed the $1,000 mark, thinking as I did at the time that the bloom was off the rose. Once Google attracted that kind of attention, it was all downhill from there.

Despite the economy, Google kind of flourished in 2008 and 2009. There was Chrome in 2008. Android began to show promise on the Motorola Droid and HTC Droid Incredible. Google was getting Chrome OS ready.

Then icky stuff started happening in 2010. Google Buzz, the first Facebook/Twitter challenger, blew the privacy quotient, pretty much beginning the product's slow, tortured end-of-life process.

Then the Street View WiSpy scandal erupted, giving Google another big black eye. It's hard to enjoy covering tech when all you read about is how the company is skewering user privacy and must be regulated.

But Google settled with Buzz and appeared to appease the FTC and state AGS over WiSpy. Things began to look better in 2011. Google made a lot of buys, and Google+ launched. All was well.

I was wrong. Google is hounded by regulators and privacy muckrakers looking to make their careers on taking down a giant the way they and their predecessors did for Microsoft. You pundits know who you are. Shame on you.

And shame on Google for putting itself in this position, for trying to be all things to all people on the Web. Google Wave was too amorphous and too early.

I enjoy Google TV, but few others do, which means I'm sweating, wondering when the product will be committed to the Google Dead Pool like so many other services Google put down in 2011.

Did you really need to launch a me, too social network, a Groupon clone, an unoriginal streaming music service missing the largest label in the free world?

Of course you did. You couldn't help yourself. On the other hand, Android remains awesome despite the handwringing about fragmentation, and there is no better browser than Chrome. Gmail and Google Docs remain two of my best business friends.

Google isn't alone. Just the other morning I awoke to see this story (via Google Reader and my Droid X) that Amazon had hired a VP for Original Programming. That leaves little to the imagination, especially after Google launched original programming on YouTube. What? Are we going to get more implausible cruft like Lilyhammer? No thanks.

It reminds me of the consumerization joke from Fight Club, where the main character comments on the IBM Stellar Sphere, Microsoft Galaxy and Planet Starbucks. Google, Apple and Amazon are becoming like online shopping malls.

I hate shopping malls. I don't want to buy goods from Google or watch new TV shows at Amazon. Maybe there was never separation of church and state in this digital realm, but there certainly never will be.

On a more serious note, Tim Wu, the Columbia Law School professor, summed up the state of affairs among the tech giants when he told the New York Times:

"There was a time when people building things on the Internet didn't have a dream to be one of the biggest companies out there; their goal was not to be the next General Motors. But that is all changing. Now you have a battle of cultures on the Web where fun is being chiseled away."

So, yes, watching Google makes me think of what it must have been like watching Microsoft getting larger. The fun has been sucked out for me.

Anyway, farewell to all of the Google contacts who have been helpful. I suspect given my new role in focusing on the CIO I will be working with many of you folks again in the near future.

Most importantly, farewell to you, gentle readers. It's been fun these last four-plus years.

You can catch miscellaneous posts of mine over at Posterous, or by following me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and even Quora.

Catch you on the flipside.