Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Google to add Albums to Picassa!

Google-love is getting out of hand. After I wrote about the launch of Google Spreadsheets this morning, one commenter said “Its very nice and sleak. Will be very useful for keeping track of money etc”, as if this was the first spreadsheet he’d ever seen. Some of the other comments were also overly effusive. Thankfully, another commenter noted that, in fact, the product isn’t exaclty new: “spreadsheets have been around about as long as computers”. I agree - while Google released a very nice Ajax spreadsheet today, they didn’t exactly change the world.

Now we are ending the day with a post by Google Blogoscoped - one of his readers noticed that Picassa, which Google acquired in mid-2004, will soon be adding albums (yes, albums) to their suite of photo products. Ryan at Cybernet is impressed, saying “[Google has] so many services that they could integrate with a photo service…so that people can create their own sites and add their photo albums. Oh the possibilities!” (Note: I like and read both of these blogs, so I’m just picking on the posts, not the blogs in general).

What drives this kind of blind enthusiasm? When is the last time Google released a product that really changed our lives? For me, it was (and is) their core search engine. And I do appreciate the pop access to Gmail (this was the one thing that converted me from hotmail for personal email). Everything since has been, well, somewhat underwhelming.

Now, if Google actually announces their intention to eat Microsoft’s lunch by trying to kill their Office revenue with a full online office suite, that would be interesting. Or if they said they wanted to eat into Flickr’s growing market share by competing more aggresively in online photos, I’d have some respect for them. At least we’d have something to talk about besides online photo albums and all this crap about how important sharing is. This isn’t about corporate secrecy - we all know what they’re up to. It’s about deniability if things don’t work out as planned. One thing Google hates more than anything is to look stupid. They are afraid to fail.

My recommendation? Put some real product people in charge over there who are willing to fail occasionally, and cut the bullshit communications strategy that succeeds only in pissing off journalists and users. Stop being so damned condescending. Build something aggresive and visionary, and then properly communicate what it is.

And on a sidenote, I met Peter Chane, Google’s Senior Business Product Manager for Google Video, tonight - he was on a panel I moderated about online video trends. This guy is for real - smart, tough, insightful and not afraid to speak his mind. People like him need to be in charge over at Google. Hopefully I didn’t just kill his chances by writing this.

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