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Losing Focus

Om Malik has an excellent post today on the current state of Google. He beautifully illustrates how Google is doing battle on more than 30 fronts with the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and others. They are investing in everything from YouTube to office productivity apps, from electronic transactions to tablet hardware.

Five years ago I sat in the audience of a panel forum in which four Google employees were being interviewed about something or another. During the course of the event, every Google employee on the panel said, “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it easily accessible to everyone.” Every single person recited this mantra at least once. Google had clarity then. They had focus. Every employee had a clear understanding on why Google was in business and how they, as employees, could contribute.

I suppose one could look at Om’s list of battle fronts and argue that most of the areas still fall within the original mission. However, I am not sure what Google Glass (Google’s wearable computing project) or self-driving cars have to do with this vision. In any case, it is clear that they are spreading themselves very thin. They have lost focus. They lack clarity.

Maybe the original mission was too broad to be useful. Or, as one of the commenters to Om’s article points out, perhaps Google now has a new mission. John Proffitt says “It seems like the unifying vision now is ‘we want you to access the world through our tools so we can profile you and sell you to advertisers (and worse) for money.’ “

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