Give Google My Number

Apparently this past week was a good one for Dear John letters to your former employers, because James Whittaker, who left Google for Microsoft, has posted his take on why he left. Read it yourself, but as far as I can tell, his argument is basically that Google shouldn’t have thrown so many resources into Google+, and that the trend of gathering more information about users via their social networking leads to overly invasive ads.

I think he’s right that Google+ is pretty obviously a fizzle so far, and it’s doubtful that it will succeed simply because there’s just limited market space for social networking in general, since each social network requires a huge number of people to participate in order to be worthwhile. That said, I think Google had to give some kind of integrated social networking a shot, since they already had millions of users with Google accounts and sites like YouTube, Picasa and Reader that all had some kind of stand-alone social networking component.

But what I see in Google isn’t too much Google+ or too many ads (those are always going to be with us if we’re going to get free services from any provider), but rather a lack of innovation. Google’s list of great products includes search, Gmail, Maps, Chrome and Android. Lately, there’s not only Google+, but Google Music, Video and Books (which have been bundled together under the name “Google Play”). Google+ has a bit of innovation with hangouts and circles, but Play is strictly a me-too offering, and it’s tanking just like Google+.

When I started to use Google search, I was amazed at how good it was compared to the other alternatives. Gmail was so much better than any other web-based email at its time of introduction that having an invite was a big deal. Maps was remarkably better than the competition at the time (and still is), Chrome was the best browser on the day it was launched, and even with its fragmentation, Android’s integration with Google Mail, Calendar and its maps and navigation are standouts. The same can’t be said of Google’s latest product offerings, yet they seem to be devoting a huge amount of time and energy to developing and promoting them.

The deai with being a Googlebot has always been that you tolerate the ads in return for using incredibly good products for free. Whittaker seems to think that ads are the deal-breaker, but for me, the deal-breaker will be spending the time of one of the best engineering teams on earth grinding out me-too copies of Amazon, iTunes or Facebook.

(h/t reader MW)

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65 replies
  1. 1
    MattF says:

    I have mixed feelings about Google. I think their signature technical achievement was to understand, engineer, and distribute quality services on a scale that had never been seen before. But note the past tense–now, thanks to Google’s pioneering efforts, everyone knows how to do it and does it.

    The big question now is, what do they offer that no one else does? You can answer that question for Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon–but Google? I don’t see it.

  2. 2
    Schlemizel says:

    Thus was it ever.
    You get a bright person or team with an innovative idea and they whip out a cool new product or a huge leap forward with an old one. They grow, they innovate, and then they bloat, start cashing in the options, buying sports teams, yachts, younger lovers. Like everything else about our world its just happening faster and faster these days.

    To speed things up even more Google has even shortened their motto, “Don’t Be Evil”

  3. 3

    I use Google Chrome in Windows and I don’t like it at all.

  4. 4
    Starfish says:

    Maps was a different company that Google bought. I feel like there are interesting niche products like SketchUp and Picnik that Google probably purchased as well. I know they purchased SketchUp. I am not sure about Picnik.

    Orkut was interesting in that it had a huge international community. Google+ is not interesting because they are trying to force you into following what is popular which is typically what it overly generic and boring. Instead of suggesting what is most popular, they should really suggest things that are popular among your friends.

    Are any of you on Google+?

  5. 5
    debit says:

    @Starfish:

    Are any of you on Google+?

    I had an invite and almost signed up. Then people started reporting whole account deletions if Google decided your user ID didn’t match your actual name. People lost everything; mail archives, everything in Google docs, contacts, all of it gone. So, yeah, not a Google+ user.

  6. 6
    djshay says:

    I’ve consistently used Google Plus since last July when it was invite only. I have robust circles that post 24/7. Hangouts are awesome. Spent 3 hours on hangout just last night with a great Jazz guitarist where he played some of his music and engaged in great dialogues about the music business. You have to make an effort to circle quality users and there are literally hundreds of guides to help you grow within the community. If you sign up and don’t circle anyone, of course it’s going to be a “ghost town”. If you don’t participate, you don’t get a good experience. Just my 2 cents.

  7. 7
    Guster says:

    As of last week, I started using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. Just because I’ve started to hate Google. (I’ve also, for the first time in 20 years, started to hate Apple.)

    DuckDuckGo works fine. And has a nice feature where, if you’re as lazy as I am, you can enter !youtube or !wiki or !google as the first term in a search, and you’ll search that site directly.

    I’m still looking for a good non-gmail free web-based email account, though …

  8. 8
    Ron says:

    I am on Google+ but honestly only check it out sporadically. Google Play will not fizzle at least in some sense, because they have replaced the android market with Google play on android phones. Honestly, they have enough stuff I really like (GMail,Android, Chrome, their search engine, Google Maps) that I will probably be a Googlebot for some time. They may be making a “me-too” version of iTunes, but if I was to start downloading music, I’d use it because it would actually work with my phone, which iTunes will not. Yes, their model has always included ads of some kind, but at least in things like GMail, they tend to be relatively unobtrusive. What I am curious to see is how the Chromebook does. For me, it isn’t practical as I use actual installed software to do things other than simply edit documents. I suspect for a large number of people, it would be the perfect computer.

  9. 9
    mistermix says:

    @Ron: I think the iPad covers a huge part of the market that the Chromebook was intended for.

  10. 10
    Ron says:

    @Guster: I can’t imagine switching from gmail at this point. Part of it is of course the sheer laziness of not wanting to change what my email address for every company that I need to be able to be contacted by email as well as for all my friends. Part of it is that frankly, gmail is still really good, and a small part of it is that gmail integrates so well with Android. Yes, Android has a generic email client, but I prefer to use the gmail app. (Also, where I work is using Google apps for our email currently.)

  11. 11
    Ron says:

    @mistermix: I don’t know about that. If you aren’t going to type much, then the iPad is certainly fine. I think if I were going to type a lot, then I’d prefer a real keyboard. (And I have to admit, if I were going to get a tablet, I’d get an android-based one, not an iPad)

  12. 12
    Guster says:

    @Ron: Gmail integrates with _everything_! I log into gmail, and every site I visit knows who I am. That’s why I’m looking for something else. I’m old. Or neurotic. Or just private, I guess.

  13. 13
    mistermix says:

    @Ron: Yeah, that raises another point about the Chromebook – I think Google is putting more resources into making Android more tablet-friendly and also putting Chrome on Android (which is now just in Beta), than they are into Chromebook. Once Chrome is on Android, every Android pad with a keyboard is basically a Chromebook.

  14. 14
    debit says:

    @Ron: I have a keyboard case for my iPad. The keyboard is tucked away when I don’t need it, but easily folds out when I do. Of course, at that point you may as well have a laptop or a netbook, but I do love my iPad.

  15. 15
    SP says:

    The flip side of this is Google has earned a reputation for introducing a product, then dropping support for it if it doesn’t take off quickly.

    I don’t know, but maybe they’re trying to get away from this kind of thing? If that’s what they’re doing it would also mean any “new” innovations are going to take a back seat to their trying to prop up an existing product.

  16. 16
    HRA says:

    I am on Google. I love it! IE made me close to being insane when I had to use it at work or at home. I had read some comments here quite a while ago discussing Google as an option and am very glad I went for it. Home is where I use it personally. Work is where it amazes me at how quickly I can find what I need to complete a task.

  17. 17
    Don Denesiuk says:

    One would think that tech and political savvy blog post writers would be able to spot a hit piece (WSJ piece by Amir Efrati that you linked to) and see it for what it is. There are numerous article of this ilk bad mouthing Google in Mr. Murdoch’s bully pulpit for oligarchy the WSJ. Active users of G+ have mounted a rebellion of sorts to try and encourage these hit piece writer to at least do a modicum of research before sharpening their long knives. Mr E suddenly has 247 comments on a Google plus post. https://plus.google.com/117940797281312243002/posts/gAQyvULTtDR Not really the same as true engagement but a refutation of the ‘ghost town’ image he was promoting. Let’s face it entrenched interests don’t like these upstart innovators like Brin and Page or Elon Musk for that matter because they are threats to the establishment. So much for the free market when a little shiv between the ribs can be so effective when others parrot the dirt without a bit of critical thinking.

  18. 18
    RareSanity says:

    When I read this article, I had mixed feelings.

    I’ve been a Googlebot since the invite only days of GMail. What stood out to me about this article, was that it appears that the same things that turned me into Googlebot, turned this guy into a Googlebot.

    It was the feeling that you were on the bleeding edge of the internet. It was reading the various techie websites, and always hearing about some other, un-search-related, technology or product, that Google was making available.

    The anticipation of, “What are they going to do next?”

    I use a lot of Google’s services, because the way they integrate across all PC platforms, and Android, is unmatched in the consumer space.

    But, I no longer feel like I’m on the bleeding edge of the internet with Google. Just proving again, no matter how successful the tech company is, eventually the suits win out over the techies.

  19. 19
    Starfish says:

    @djshay: Who are some interesting musical people on Google+? Most of my circles are Local Nerds, More Nerds, and Still Other Nerds.

  20. 20
    Steve in DC says:

    Google and apple are two of the more shady technology companies out there. I still cracks me up that the two of them are in so many lawsuits with each other they managed to drag samsung, motorola, and others into the mess.

    Google+ also came out at the wrong time. For the longest time most people didn’t realize that the real “product” of facebook, was all the information it’s users put into it. The worlds largest and most complete database of people and their relationships. It’s pretty impressive stuff that if the government did it they’d be sued so quickly. It’s actually malicious in nature and gives people the ultimate way to identify groups. We often do “facebook hacks” as part of our security audits with various companies. We pretty much map your life via your social media connections. Odds are within a week we can have control of your bank account, potentially pick your kid up from school, get into your work computer, and probably spoof ourselves to the place where your wife works as well. Best of all we’ll have a map of all known associations and associations close to your and their interests, political leanings, histories. It’s all just there.

    Of course, that is pretty much what facebook intended to create. It’s why their product is worth so much to advertisers. But it’s also there for anyone else that wants the information.

    Thing is, people are starting to get upset about that. Of course, without that information facebook would go under, their product is worthless if it’s private and it’s a failed business. So they can’t change that, and they won’t ever. And users will still keep coming back even if they know the deal. But trying to get people to sign away their lives to another company is hard.

    I think people are becoming more aware that using social media = all your lifes details are now public and a corporation will make a profit off them. Google got into the game too late, all the sheep have already been roped in.

  21. 21
    RossInDetroit says:

    I got on Google+ by invitation from a group of social media early adopters in publishing. I check it periodically and all I see is reposted Tweets and a little bit of what’s already on my very active FB page. Other than that, dust devils and tumbleweeds. G+ is a solution in search of a problem that FB solved 5 years ago.

  22. 22
    gaz says:

    pitch perfect analysis of google’s direction/stagnation. spot on.

  23. 23
    300baud says:

    Mistermix, you’ve missed the heart of his argument, which basically agrees with your concern. It’s this:

    The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

    I haven’t been by the Googleplex in a while, but my impression from previous visits is that he is right. In stark contrast to other large companies, there was a real sense of bottom-up power there. When friends wanted to change something, they weren’t focused on swaying a high-level person; they were focused either on persuasion of colleagues or on building something themselves.

    I guess Google management thinks that it’s cheaper to buy innovation via acquisition than it is to grow it internally. But I think that ignores the long term: a lot of good people don’t want to be the wood behind somebody else’s arrow. And the ones who do will be the least innovative ones.

  24. 24
    mistermix says:

    @300baud: You’re right that he said that, and maybe it’s my bad reading comprehension or uncharitable reading, but that statement was mixed in with other comments that generally were down on advertising and that differs from my view on ads. I think a company innovating in ads is a good thing, I want ads to be better and I think advertising is a worth area of technical endeavor. But you’re right that the culture there probably changed, at least in some groups.

  25. 25
    RareSanity says:

    @Steve in DC:

    Google and apple are two of the more shady technology companies out there. I still cracks me up that the two of them are in so many lawsuits with each other they managed to drag samsung, motorola, and others into the mess.

    I couldn’t disagree more with this statement.

    Google didn’t drag anyone into anything. Samsung, HTC, Motorola and and of the others, saw that Apple changed the mobile game with the iPhone. In Android, they saw the chance to quickly pay catch-up, with a free (no charge) operating system, and ride Google’s coat tails at the same time. Google didn’t strong arm, or pay, anyone to use Android initially.

    In the beginning, after all of the big boys passed, a small (at the time) company called HTC, decide to give Android a chance. When the other manufacturers saw the success of the G1, and potential Android had, they couldn’t get their hands on it fast enough.

    Also, let’s not forget, all of these lawsuits have been initiated by companies, either trying to kill Android (Apple), or profit off of Android’s success (Oracle and Microsoft).

    Google, nor any Android manufacturer, has ever initiated a lawsuit against any of those companies. Any suits where they are the plaintiff, are basically retaliatory counter-suits.

    There are parts of both companies’ business models that I don’t agree with, but I think calling either one of them “shady”, may be a bit strong.

    If they’re shady, which successful tech companies aren’t?

  26. 26
    El Cruzado says:

    @Steve in DC: I can’t and won’t speak for the whole company nor all of its activity, but I’d say that Apple’s obsession with secrecy often makes them appear a lot more shady than it actually is.

  27. 27
    eldorado says:

    dude is complaining about lack of innovation and he is headed over to microsoft. really.

  28. 28
    RareSanity says:

    @eldorado:

    Congratulations! You just won the thread.

  29. 29
    Sad says:

    The search isn’t nearly as good as it used to be and that’s what bothers me the most.

  30. 30
    robert mcclellan says:

    Google quit working on G-mail in 2009, Hotmail is now a lot better there are better one’s I am sure but I don’t know what they are.

  31. 31
    What Have The Romans Ever Done for Us? (formerly MarkJ) says:

    @Ron: Amen on a music syncing service that would work seamlessly with an android phone. iTunes does not play well with others. I can get my Android phone to work with Microsoft Media Player but it’s not exactly intuitive or seamless.

  32. 32
    Nutella says:

    @Don Denesiuk:

    Let’s face it entrenched interests don’t like these upstart innovators

    The point is, though, that Google is no longer an upstart or an innovator.

    What they used to do with great success was extremely efficient search and mail with a very clean and usable screen design. Now search quality is going to hell, gmail is getting slower and less reliable, and the look and usability of their screens is worse every day.

    They’re the old, stodgy, out of touch company that needs a nimble new competitor to kick them awake.

  33. 33
    Peter says:

    Chrome was never the best browser unless ‘gotta go fast’ was your sole metric.

  34. 34
    giltay says:

    @mistermix: I got a generally anti-ad feel from the piece, too. But my take on it was that before, Google was a tech company supported by advertizing; now it’s an advertizing company supported by tech. More importantly for him, it was a company that put a lot of decision-making power into its employees’ hands; now it’s centralized control. All of which just corroborates what I already feel, myself.

  35. 35
    Ohio Mom says:

    Let me get this straight: this James Whittaker guy thinks there’s a big corporation (in this case, Microsoft) that he can go work for that isn’t going to do things that give the willies, if not now, eventually? I’m sorry, but I don’t think that’s possible.

  36. 36
    kindness says:

    The real kicker to me? Here’s a guy who quits, bashes Google and then joins Microsoft. Isn’t that like jumping out of a frying pan into a molten vat of yuck?

  37. 37
    SectarianSofa says:

    @kindness:

    The real kicker to me? Here’s a guy who quits, bashes Google and then joins Microsoft.

    That says it all.

  38. 38
    bvac says:

    The bar was set pretty low for Google from the start. They won all of their fights with big data and fast, fluid interfaces, when their competitors were dumb, slow, and ugly. Now that their competitors are lean, savvy, and trendsetting, they have nothing left to offer. At this point they just need to be reliable.

  39. 39
    Tractarian says:

    This post is spot-on. My sentiments exactly. Kudos for expressing a rare viewpoint.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “If you’re not paying, you’re not the customer, you’re the product!” I guess I’m supposed to feel guilty, or objectified, or something.

    But I like being the product. It means I don’t have to pay for anything! (And so far, I’ve been able to resist the lure of all those customized ads.)

  40. 40
    SectarianSofa says:

    @300baud:

    That is the salient criticism, I think (though admittedly none of my info is second-hand or worse). There are huge numbers of very talented people at Google, but if they are focused on the same goals and use the same methods as everyone else, I think they become like everyone else.

    I’m on Google+, but I hardly touch it (or facebook, or twitter, etc..) I use Gmail, android, others every day.

  41. 41
    RareSanity says:

    @Don Denesiuk:

    Compared to Facebook, G+ is a “ghost town”, and I’m a user (and fan) of G+ that doesn’t even have a Facebook account.

    Just because opinions are expressed, with what appears to be a default bias against, doesn’t make the opinion any less valid.

    Google has a market cap of $200 billion. They haven’t been an “upstart” for a very, very long time.

  42. 42
    Jack the Second says:

    I think Google has always been a Me-Too company. Look at that list of flagship products: Search, GMail, Chrome, Maps, and Android.

    They weren’t the first into any of those markets. They weren’t the second or third or fourth. Years ago — before Chrome was a glint in an engineer’s eye — a friend of mine listed the fifteen different web-browsers he had used before settling on Opera. Fifteen! But Google got into those markets and they made a product that was better enough to attract a rather large crowd of users and admirers.

    Google’s current batch of products may succeed or fail, but I don’t think they’re really doing anything different than they did before. They aren’t trying to imagine a new type of product that no one has ever imagined before. They are trying to take existing products that people already know and want and execute them better than other people have.

  43. 43
    Starfish says:

    I think that the people complaining about Microsoft’s lack of innovation are just looking at the cash cow products and missing things like Kinect and Darwin Bot. We all need robots to play with dogs while we work.

  44. 44

    @robert mcclellan: Google quit working on G-mail in 2009, Hotmail is now a lot better there are better one’s I am sure but I don’t know what they are.

    Nor do I, and it doesn’t matter, because I’m not going to switch unless GMail becomes completely unusable. E-mail is, as Jeff Atwood says, your internet driver’s license. Unlike maps, or search, or even photos, dropping one provider and switching to another comes with a huge cost. Email entrenches you deep and fast.

    You want to switch email providers? Right on, now you get to notify everybody who has ever contacted you that you have a new address. Good luck: even the ones who note the change are still going to have your old address in their client’s history, and accidentally send messages to it for years.

    I switched to third-party webmail (Yahoo & Google) because ISP-based mail became too flakey. Switch providers? New email address. Move to a new town that your old ISP doesn’t serve? New address. ISP gets bought by another company? New address. Screw it. The next best alternative is to register your own domain name and set up an email alias with it, but that does involve a cost (however minor).

  45. 45
    Fwiffo says:

    Chrome was never the best browser unless ‘gotta go fast’ was your sole metric.

    How about “is fast enough to be usable and not constantly leak memory, freeze and crash” for a metric? Firefox has been on a downward slope for a long time. Any complaint about Firefox is invariably blamed on extensions, but I need like a dozen extensions to get the base functionality of Chrome for features I use in ordinary, day-to-day browsing and web development. Even IE has passed Firefox up in terms of performance and stability.

    Another thing I like about Chrome is that if one tab is a little slow at loading one file, it doesn’t freeze up the entire fucking browser. WTF, Mozilla developers?

  46. 46
    Brachiator says:

    @mistermix:

    But what I see in Google isn’t too much Google+ or too many ads (those are always going to be with us if we’re going to get free services from any provider), but rather a lack of innovation.

    Google has often been overflowing with ideas. But the issue is not a lack of innovation; it’s that they don’t know how to polish their ideas, bring them to market, and turn the innovations into useful products.

    They also don’t know much how to get out of the engineer and tech ghetto. Google tried to put together a superior music and video service, but couldn’t negotiate successfully with the media companies. Meanwhile, Apple and Amazon built from strength to strength in coming up with content for the iPad and the Kindle Fire respectively.

    The memo also indicates that the Google crew misunderstand Steve Jobs’ dictum to simplify and focus. Instead of looking to Google’s strengths, they are instead trying to imitate someone else’s vision, a recipe for disaster. They don’t know how to best channel the creativity of their engineers and so instead are focusing on stuff like Google Plus and social media, things that they do not do well or clearly understand.

    It will be interesting to see if the chiefs recognize their blunders and recover before they alienate more people.

    I think the iPad covers a huge part of the market that the Chromebook was intended for.

    Not really. The Chromebook is still primarily designed to be used when connected to the Internet, an increasingly odd limitation that undercuts its value.

    And even for what it does, it is overpriced. And of course, it doesn’t have much of a market at all. Between the iPad, the various Kindles and Nooks, and laptops, the Chromebook could not even be considered to be much of a niche product.

    @Jack the Second:

    They weren’t the first into any of those markets.

    Being first is meaningless. It’s how you deliver value and service. Google’s primary products are first rate.

  47. 47
    RareSanity says:

    @Starfish:

    I agree.

    Although, I would add that Microsoft doesn’t fail at innovation, what they fail at is execution.

    Just take the example of Kinect, right after its communication protocol was reverse engineered. Instead of embracing that community (or hell, even just ignoring them), they tried any legal means possible, to shut it down. Why? You had a bunch of people, willing to buy one of your products, whether or not they actually had, or wanted, an XBOX. They were building cool stuff, that would have further increased the popularity of the product. They eventually realized the error of their ways and tried to backtrack, but it was too late, the community had moved on.

    They couldn’t see past their greed. They saw of all of the cool uses people were coming up with, that Microsoft itself couldn’t patent, and their actions killed the buzz that could have turned the Kinect, into a popular, stand-alone product.

    Now the product still depends on XBOX sales, and is languishing, because game makers have found that for the majority of games, people just prefer using a standard controller.

    The Zune was actually a much better product than the iPod when it was first released. Unfortunately, Microsoft fumbled again with music store outages, slow software updates, and the disastrous “Plays4Sure” DRM model.

    Windows Phone 7, is actually a pretty slick mobile operating system. Very pleasing to the eye and responsive. However, Microsoft is again, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, by telling manufacturers (and end-users) that Microsoft will tell you how the user interface will work, no customizing, and you’re gonna like it! You bastards!

    It is already losing the market share it started gaining when it was released, and now is getting close to dropping to below release levels. It will eventually fail too, and take Nokia down with it.

  48. 48
    JoeShabadoo says:

    How can anyone take this article seriously now that he has already moved to Microsoft?

    Breaking News: Man jumps to biggest competitor and bashes previous company!

  49. 49

    @Jack the Second: Look at that list of flagship products: Search, GMail, Chrome, Maps, and Android. They weren’t the first into any of those markets.

    This is an excellent observation.

  50. 50
    Daaling says:

    The guy went from Google back to friggin Micro$oft. What credibility could he possibly have? I don’t know what it’s like to work at Google but I do know what it’s like to work at M$ and I can’t see how Google could be worse than that.

  51. 51
    Joel says:

    iGoogle is a nice homepage.

    Google Scholar is a great pubmed supplement. I hate that they moved scholar to the back page though.

  52. 52

    @Brachiator: The Chromebook is still primarily designed to be used when connected to the Internet, an increasingly odd limitation that undercuts its value.

    This is increasingly true of the iOS suite as well, especially when it comes to third-party apps. Apple has been doing a pretty good job of delivering offline applications (e.g. the iWork and iLife ports) but the rest of the world seems to believe that using a computing device is synonymous with going online. Google is banking on that equivalence; they’ve said for years that the desktop app is going to be obsolete.

    That doesn’t fit my disposition but they might end up being right anyway.

  53. 53
    RareSanity says:

    @JoeShabadoo:

    From the first paragraph of the article:

    […] a warning in advance: there is no drama here, no tell-all, no former colleagues bashed and nothing more than you couldn’t already surmise from what’s happening in the press these days surrounding Google and its attitudes toward user privacy and software developers.

    This is the same thing as the Goldman Sachs executives’ op-ed, from yesterday. Everyone knows what’s going on, but having it confirmed by an “insider”, is at the very least, very compelling.

    The fact that both may be disgruntled former employees with an ax to grind is not, in my opinion, sufficient grounds to invalidate their perspective. If anything, it just gives me context, as to why they would “air dirty laundry”, in such a public way.

    If I left an employer on good terms, it is highly unlikely that the thought would even cross my mind, to do something this public to paint a negative picture of my former company. If I left under bad terms, then I may just think, “Screw you guys, I’m gonna tell the world, exactly how shit really goes down in that company.”

    A nefarious motivation, can be (but not always), mutually exclusive from an invalid opinion.

  54. 54
    JoeShabadoo says:

    @RareSanity

    Your are consistently over rating Microsoft.

    Kinect isn’t a very good example of innovation because Nintendo released motion control years before and Kinect was their very late response. It’s my understanding that MS basically went shopping for other companies developing motion control methods.

    I never had a Zune so it may have been a great product but it certainly wasn’t innovative. It was a me too Ipod.

    Windows 7 is them trying to correct the screw up of Vista. Microsoft’s biggest problem is that users just don’t really have reason to upgrade to the next OS anymore. XP is still used by a ton of people and companies because there is no real reason for them to upgrade. In the future there will just be fewer reasons for people to upgrade their Microsoft software.

  55. 55
    BrianM says:

    @kindness: Whittaker went from Florida Institute of Technology to Microsoft and then to Google. So he’s more like Robert Frost’s hired hand returning home to die than someone who’s about to be rudely surprised.

  56. 56
    RareSanity says:

    @JoeShabadoo:

    Kinect isn’t a very good example of innovation because Nintendo released motion control years before and Kinect was their very late response. It’s my understanding that MS basically went shopping for other companies developing motion control methods.

    You’re right, the Wii controller is just that, a motion controller. The Kinect, on the other hand, is motion capture. It tracks body movements, it can differentiate whether you are using your arm or leg, left or right, the position of your head (are you looking left, right, down, up), whether you are standing up, laying down, or crouching, or whether you are leaning a certain direction, and to what extent. It also registers body and room temperature changes via infrared sensors and captures audio.

    Oh yeah, it does all of this CONSTANTLY and SIMULTANEOUSLY. It doesn’t matter if they bought the initial technology, they were able to bring this innovation in interaction, to the market, at a retail price of $99.

    I never had a Zune so it may have been a great product but it certainly wasn’t innovative. It was a me too Ipod.

    The Zune wasn’t innovative…neither was the iPod. I had a Diamond Rio, 3 years before the introduction of either.

    I said that it was a better product than the iPod. It had a better form factor and screen, along with better media and sound controls.

    Windows 7 is them trying to correct the screw up of Vista. Microsoft’s biggest problem is that users just don’t really have reason to upgrade to the next OS anymore. XP is still used by a ton of people and companies because there is no real reason for them to upgrade. In the future there will just be fewer reasons for people to upgrade their Microsoft software.

    I said Windows 7 Phone. I was talking about their mobile OS, not the desktop version.

  57. 57
    JoeShabadoo says:

    @RareSanity:
    There are other reasons for him to get in digs on Google. If you notice his job was helping to make Google+, the same thing he talks about screwing up Google. By writing this article he is saying “It wasn’t my fault that my project didn’t work out, it was Google’s fault for putting so much emphasis on my fizzling project.” It directs blame away from himself.

    Before Google he also worked at Microsoft and now he is going back there. Jumping to a place like Google for two years is common plan for people at Microsoft who want a promotion. By saying this he gets some more brownie points with his once and future company. Let’s also not forget the fact that this is something that could have been requested by Microsoft when he got there as part of their PR. Microsoft is the company that imo Google is threatening the most right now with their Android OS. If Microsoft can’t get a foothold in the mobile phone OS market they are going to be screwed in the future as smart phones inevitably replace home pcs.

  58. 58
    Joel says:

    I would like Google to destroy Thompson/ISI once and for all.

  59. 59
    Brachiator says:

    @Cris (without an H):RE: The Chromebook is still primarily designed to be used when connected to the Internet, an increasingly odd limitation that undercuts its value.

    This is increasingly true of the iOS suite as well, especially when it comes to third-party apps. Apple has been doing a pretty good job of delivering offline applications (e.g. the iWork and iLife ports) but the rest of the world seems to believe that using a computing device is synonymous with going online.

    No, it’s not really about being online vs offline, or at work vs home. It’s not about where the device is; it’s about where the people are. Services like Dropbox and iCloud, iTunes Match, Amazon Cloud, etc, free people to start reading a book or working on a project on a smartphone, continuing it on a iPad, and finishing it up on a laptop or desktop which might or might not be at home.

    A cheaper Chromebook might have been a natural product for shcool kids if it were cheaper, had more storage, but allowed kids to easily save everything to the Cloud. This would also be great if the Chromebook were lost, broken or stolen; everything could be easily restored. It would also be a natural for containing e-textbooks. But again, the product is too crippled to be truly useful.

    Google is banking on that equivalence; they’ve said for years that the desktop app is going to be obsolete.

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. But Google does not yet excel in developing either apps or devices. It doesn’t mean much if they think they know the future if they cannot shape that future.

    @Daaling:

    The guy went from Google back to friggin Micro$oft. What credibility could he possibly have?

    Seems to me that this might actually increase his credibility. He worked in and understands two different corporate cultures.

  60. 60
    RareSanity says:

    @JoeShabadoo:

    Even if I stipulate that everything you just listed, is absolutely true, it still does not address the accuracy of his statements.

    All of those factors simply tell me, to take what he’s saying with a grain of salt, and to see if there are other sources that corroborate, or refute, his claims.

    In this case, his statements seem to be inline with the current conventional wisdom, in regards to Google.

    I really hate using the term, “conventional wisdom”, because of the negative connotations, in regard to media coverage. However, I’m using it in the dictionary defined context, meaning “prevailing thoughts”, or “general perception”.

  61. 61
    EJ says:

    There’s a certain type of nerd who feels entitled to a comfortable six figure salary, yet gets upset at any hint that the company he works for would prioritize making a profit. I’ve worked with a few of them myself.

  62. 62
    Brachiator says:

    @EJ:

    There’s a certain type of nerd who feels entitled to a comfortable six figure salary, yet gets upset at any hint that the company he works for would prioritize making a profit.

    This doesn’t begin to describe some of the people I’ve known who work for Google, who are an amazing bunch of people.

    I’ve worked for newly emerging companies and for old, very successful companies that set up divisions to work on cutting edge stuff. Worked with a lot of talented people. At Google there was something extra, people who were already rich from stock options, who could cash out and live very comfortably, but who came to work every day to work their butts off for the sheer fun of it. People who did not fear getting fired or being broke, and who had that rare luxury of being able to focus on their job or a new project.

    And I knew one guy who loved the atmosphere in the company so much that he once said that he wanted to work there until the day he died. I got the feeling that far from feeling entitled to a salary, he would have paid them to be able to come to work.

    What I got from the article was that the atmosphere that previously encouraged and nutured these attitudes was changing, and not changing for the better.

  63. 63
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    Windows Phone 7, is actually a pretty slick mobile operating system. Very pleasing to the eye and responsive. However, Microsoft is again, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, by telling manufacturers (and end-users) that Microsoft will tell you how the user interface will work, no customizing, and you’re gonna like it! You bastards!

    I think your Android bias is showing.I think that the direction MSFT seems to be taking (WP7 feels more in the direction of iOS than Android) is a good thing. Avoiding platform fragmentation, and providing developers with a more uniform experience can only be a good thing. As well as avoiding pre-installed crapware, and making sure updates actually get pushed through.

    IMHO, I think Win 8 tablets are going to make a serious run at Android for number 2 in the tablet world this fall. I mean, even here in Silicon Valley, I just rarely see Android tablets, outside of a few niche geek segments. Especially with the rumor mill saying that Win 8 and Windows Phone 8 are supposed to be able to share the same code for Metro apps…I wouldn’t count MSFT out yet (lets wait a year).

  64. 64
    Cain says:

    I am on Google+ and I love it. I use it exclusively. It’s really a good place if you’re into tech stuff. It’s a nice combination of twitter and social networking. Google hangouts is an awesome feature as well.

    You have a lot of intelligent people on there and I find the conversations to be a lot better. While on facebook, everybody is family and friends from your past. it’s a completely different setup. Google+ has turned into my professional network.

  65. 65
    RareSanity says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    I think your Android bias is showing.I think that the direction MSFT seems to be taking (WP7 feels more in the direction of iOS than Android) is a good thing.

    I will respectfully disagree.

    I will agree that what your are saying is a good thing for end users. For phone manufacturers, it is quite unattractive.

    Because Microsoft basically defines that hardware, and software, there is no way for manufacturers to differentiate their W7P model, from the the other guy’s W7P model. There’s only so many different ways a rectangle form factor can be done.

    Also, from the manufacturers perspective, marginalizes them in the eyes of the carriers. Always remember, in the world of wireless, you and I are not the customers of the manufacturers, the carriers are. If all of the phones are basically the same, it doesn’t make much difference who makes it. HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, Sony…put all their names in a hat and pick one, they’re all basically going to be the same thing.

    The reason that there is this “fragmentation” in Android, is because Android gives the manufacturers the freedom to customize and differentiate. There is a distinct difference in feel when using Android phones from different manufacturers. And any Android user that has owned phones from different manufacturers, will express a preference, to one manufacturer or another. They will also be able to actually describe the points that they liked, and didn’t like, for each.

    Microsoft can’t go the direction of Apple, because they don’t make, nor do they have any interest in making, the hardware.

    The current structure the Microsoft is using, is not one manufacturers will choose willingly. The reason that Nokia accepted it, was because they let Microsoft convince them that they could use their combined patent portfolios, to sue Android out of existence. The only reason HTC makes a Windows Phone, is because Microsoft sued over Android, and HTC doesn’t have the same resources as a Samsung, Motorola, or Google, so they settled with them. HTC pays licensing fees to Microsoft, for every Android it sells.

    I wouldn’t doubt that Microsoft worked out a deal that would give HTC a break on those payments, if they would produce Windows Phone hardware.

    Now Windows 8, is truly something different, and Microsoft is taking a huge risk with it. The bread and butter of Microsoft, is enterprise software sales. Enterprises don’t like “revolutionary” products, that they then have to spend money training their employees to use and their IT staffs to support. They prefer “evolutionary”.

    In the consumer space, I personally think that it will be a huge success. However, I see it being more of a threat to the in the tablet market (specifically the iPad). I personally don’t see it faring any better in the smartphone segment then W7P has.

    I’m a huge Android fan, but frankly, Android in tablet form sucks ass. In the future, I see Android continuing to dominate the smartphone segment, while becoming almost non-existent in the tablet segment. While Apple and Microsoft duke it out for for the tablet market, which will eventually include the hybrid products that will eventually replace netbooks, laptops, and non-server desktops.

    Just my opinion…

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