Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why Google Is the New Yahoo

There've been a number of what one might call "peak Google" articles lately, most conspicuously the New York Times piece yesterday.

Not the first such article and not the last. 

A few days ago, I blogged about the death of blogging and pointed out that Blogspot is yet another Google property slowly going down in flames, following in the zombie-like footsteps of iGoogle, Google Answers, Google Notebook, Aardvark, Buzz, and about 50 other flops.

GTalk reportedly goes dead on Monday. Meanwhile Google Hangouts (which officially superseded GTalk in May 2013) never really took off, whereas WhatsApp has 700 million users. 

Google is getting pretty good at this "fail fast" stuff.

But what really matters is revenue. The revenue picture doesn't look so bad from this graph:

Like Microsoft, Google will probably remain financially viable for a long time (let's not kid ourselves), but unlike Microsoft, Google makes most of its money from ads. That could go away comparatively quickly. Advertisers are notoriously fickle. Users of Search or GMail might feel "locked in," but advertisers never do.

So don't fixate on the above graph. Remember, that's the rearview mirror.

It's inevitable that:

1. Google revenues will slip.
2. Wall Street will punish the stock.
3. Analysts will blame Google's "failed social strategy."
4. Google will respond by making a bid for Twitter. The combined stock-and-cash deal will probably top $40 billion, yet will be seen by some as cheap.

Along the way, there will be layoffs. Google's R&D and G&A spending are out of control.

Twitter can't save Google, though. The problems ultimately go far beyond "social strategy." (That's a blog by itself.) They're cultural. It's a culture of arrogance. It won't be fixed overnight—if indeed it's fixable.

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