Take a Closer Look at Google’s Many Tech Misses
NEW YORK – TECH – While Google often seems like a company that can do no wrong, it has had as many misses as it’s had hits. No enterprise that is as committed to creativity and new ideas as Google is could really avoid this particular pitfall – which can, ultimately, lead to greater understanding and new ideas moving forward.
There has been a lot of coverage of Google’s many successes, so it seems only fair for us to give a little insight into some of their failures too. Some of these flops are quite spectacular, and at the very least they show how important making mistakes is to constant innovation. They also prove that no one is immune to error, and that even Google doesn’t always get it quite right.
At Google’s annual I/O Conference in 2012, when new projects are announced, Google Glass was arguably the biggest splash of all. It was demoed by a skydiving stuntman handing it to bikers after jumping out of an aeroplane, and then the bikers hand-delivering it to Sergey Brin, who was waiting inside the Moscone Centre.
A head-mounted wearable, Google Glass was activated with the voice command “OK Glass”. Displaying information about email, phone calls, maps and more, Google Glass promised real-life integration for technology at a whole new level. There was even talk of Virtual and Augmented Reality games and other applications.
The price of this futuristic device, however, was exorbitant. Its initial Explorer’s Edition was$1,500.00, and there were genuine safety and privacy concerns about the device too. The project has been paused since 2015 when the Explorer programme was halted and production of the prototype was discontinued. However, it is still possible that this may all resume.
Also released in 2012, the Nexus Q digital media player aired content from Google Music, Google Movie, Google Play and YouTube onto your television. It looked great, and it was the first project that was completely developed and produced by Google in-house.
The price point for the Q was, however, as off base as Google Glass. At $300, its competitors included Roku, AppleTV and several other impressive devices that performed almost the same functions. When enthusiasm for the project did not reach the expected levels, the launch was delayed and the Q was then given away for free to those who had pre-ordered it.
Sales of the Q were lacklustre to put it mildly, and they were formally stopped in 2013. However, a lot of the technology was still useable and was applied in the much more economical, and popular, Chromecast dongle.
Google Buzz and Jaiku
Google has also attempted to capitalise on the worldwide craze for social media platforms, with varying degrees of success. Google Buzz was a messaging and networking product, launched in 2010 that was integrated into Gmail.
Buzz allowed users to share links, videos, photos and status updates, much like Facebook. However, it did not have Facebook’s powerful privacy settings and was criticised for upgrading Gmail users to its service without obtaining their consent. Google cut its losses, and killed off Buzz in 2011.
The year 2011 was also when Google announced the permanent shut down of the Jaiku service. Google acquired the Finnish micro blogging site in 2007, but Twitter massively outpaced it by the beginning of 2009. Jaiku became open-source at this point, but this was not enough to save it.
As of 15 January 2012, Jaiku was no longer operational. Google saw an opportunity to run with a potentially lucrative micro blogging site, but lost out when the world picked Twitter as its favourite.
You can’t criticise the company for being on the lookout for new ideas and trying them though, some will work, and some will not. In the end, it is this flexible spirit of willingness to try new things and to jettison them when they don’t perform that allows Google to endure – by breaking projects into smaller companies under the Alphabet umbrella, or by whatever means become necessary in the future.