Hello, world.

Kudos to Rob Sheldon for J’Accuse-ing Google on its increasingly spotty offerings. I was an early convert to the search tool, loved Images, preferred Maps to Mapquest, and still tell all my n00b-ier friends about Docs, but the truth is that they’ve started to feel very much like Al Qaeda: Lots of little groups working on lots of new, little products (or, as Sheldon rightfully paints them, “features”), some of which manage to make their mark for a moment or two, but most of them just cause a big, empty bang. The funniest thing is to watch the techheads go mad for things like Wave, Buzz (which seemed to be Wave 2.0 but a completely separate program and the recent Instant Search, whose target audience is people too impatient to use Google (*sigh*), only to see them quickly abandoned not only by the web, but by Google itself.

Sheldon argues that Google isn’t fixing problems that he needs solved, but it feels more like Google creating new products that offer new problems… That they won’t solve. It’s distressing to see such a huge and powerful company take such a scattershot approach to its business. Minus the reactionary aspect, it feels a lot like Microsoft in the early ’00s, and Google need only cast an eye towards gloomy Redmond to know how that worked out for them.

Much as my Google Engineer brother-in-law would hate to hear me say it, I think the best thing Google can do for its business is to halt that famous 20% Time, give the engineers a suggestion box instead, and have all worthwhile ideas filtered through a strong executive who knows what’s important, has a longer attention span, and is less caffeinated than the current leadership. Sadly, if they were venal enough to cast off “Don’t Be Evil” when China came a-callin’, it’s unlikely that “Don’t Be Stupid” will replace it as a mission statement anytime soon.

The experience I have with Google every day has convinced me that they’re no longer concentrating on their original mission. Google is now a marketing company, and what was supposed to be their “core competency” has been neglected in favor of rolling out new features and services. I’m far from the only person that thinks Google’s search results have been slipping, even though Google seems to think the quality of their search results is improving.

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