Dear Google, Please Stop Hitting Yourself
I’m really rooting for Google.
I believe in Android as a bulwark against iPhone’s greedy closed system of iTunes and its hypocritically Orwellian “freedom from porn” (and its “we’ve already solved podcasts” (and its love of Hitler (and its intolerance for satire))). (Plus Android’s Gmail, Maps, Calendar, OTA syncing, nimble navigation, and fast app release cycles are all superior.)
I believe in App Engine as a way of letting developers easily build apps that make people’s lives better.
I believe in Google Docs and Gmail for making enterprises and individuals more efficient.
I believe in Google Maps as a platform for visualizing geographic data and making the world more accessible.
But then the past couple of years happened.
Android continues to look like ass. It has long-standing issues of runaway battery use that haven’t been rectified. (In addition to these mysteries, why would it autoupdate apps (yay!) during the day, when the phone is unlikely to be plugged in, instead of at night? The mind boggles.) Fragmentation has eaten it alive. It’s uninterested in improving its geolocation APIs. It hangs when I try to answer calls.
App Engine came up with pricing that had no basis in reality, and then lost revenue and increased costs for Google by failing to respond.
Docs and Gmail got slower and slower, and, for a year, were nearly impossible to log in to.
Reader was eviscerated for the unproved Plus.
Maps came up with pricing that drove people away again and again, obviously exceeding the cost for even small organizations to just run their own maps. These prices also have no basis in reality. (For context, AdSense pays ~ $1 per thousand page views. Maps tries to charge ~ $4 per thousand page views.)
I don’t get it. Is there a department of self-sabotage at Google that, seeing success, gets to work right away trying to erode it? That, having earned good will, attempts to destroy it? That, having read the new Steve Jobs biography, ignores the great advice about avoiding division P&Ls? That, faced with two sides of a balance sheet, haplessly ramps up costs and then scavenges for revenue? That, having built a brand and a user base, tries to alienate it? Google should probably shut that department down.