Google’s Swings and Misses

The Economist has an article looking at how Lively, Google’s attempt to establish a foothold in the virtual world market, has flopped.

To be fair, it’s far too early to determine whether Lively is a failure given it was only launched last month but it did get me thinking about how some projects rolled out by Google have failed to resonate with the masses. Here are some of the leading candidates:

1. Froogle: the comparison-shopping site has never had much, if any, momentum despite the catchy name. Google eventually renamed its Google Product Search, which is far from inspiring.

2. Orkut: Other than Brazil and India, which respectively account for 53.86% 16.97% of Orkut’s users, the social networking service has not managed to made any inroads against Facebook or MySpace. Even Friendnster seems to have more traction.

3. Google Finance: Launched with much hype in 2006, it lags far behind Yahoo Finance, AOL Finance and MSN Money.

4. Google Blog Search: You would think that Google would dominate this market given it’s the dominant search engine. Yet, blog search remains a place where no one has really grabbed the bull by the horns.

5. GMail: People love it but Yahoo still dominates the Web-based e-mail market while Hotmail remains a strong second.

A disclaimer of sorts: Despite Google’s search dominance, there’s no way for a company to have smash-hits across the board. That’s just unrealistic.

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  • Steve

    The fact that Google lets its people try things is what makes the company great. They just put it out there to see if it sticks. Google, unlike Microsoft, is not deluded to think they can buy their way into any market they want.In contrast, most other big companies which market research everything to death.

    I’m very happy with the Google services I do use – search, Reader, Maps, Gmail, Blogger and even Google Finance to some extent – and will at least try anything they put out. I forgot about Orkut, though I did once sign up. C’est la vie.

  • Mark Evans

    I agree with you. I’m more than happy to try most things Google releases, and include Google Reader, GMail, search, Google Maps and Google Finance as regular online tools.

  • Jerry Hung

    You only need 1 Very Successful product out of 10 sometimes

    Out of so many Google products, I really enjoyed many of them – Search, Google Maps, Reader, Picasa/Photo, Calendar, Gmail, Google Docs, in a way FeedBurner too

    I don’t know why Yahoo Finance is much ahead, because personally I liked Google Finance better.

  • Shawn Simister

    GMail was a huge hit but they came a little late to the game so you can’t really expect everyone to abandon their Yahoo email accounts.

    Google Finance is really well done but it will probably take a while to become more popular.

    Orkut was pretty much a flop until it became part of the bigger picture of OpenSocial. In the early days of OpenSocial, developers looked to Orkut as the reference implementation for OpenSocial integration.

    I tried Lively and I was not impressed. The user experience was terrible.

  • David Hutchison

    Ready, Fire, Aim

    It’s been said by many. I’d far rather work in an organization that makes something happen than to spend month after month mired in analysis (or is that paralysis by analysis to use another cliche).

    I don’t care if half their things flop, it’s nice to see new things and to take them for a spin.

    - a fellow Canadian

  • Smellvin

    Picasa. FTW.

  • Neyma Jahansooz

    Gmail is masterful and can only move upwards

    Just because Orkut is unknown in N.America, does not mean that it is a failure.

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  • Martyr2

    Are you kidding me about Gmail being a dud? Is this based purely off of what? Here are some nice facts…

    1) Gmail consists of 91.6 million users, no3 of course behind Yahoo and MSN mail (Hotmail) which have roughly 250 million each.

    2) Yahoo and MSN also tie their other services to their mail systems to get more signups. Can anyone say portal? Imagine if Google tied their search portal to their webmail. This means that mail services for these two (Yahoo and MSN) are heavily bloated. While Google does a bit of the same, it is not crammed down your throat like the other two. I have an account with both that I never use just so I can get access to other services that Yahoo and MSN have (APIs etc)

    3) “Since leaving ‘by invitation only’ status in early 2007, Gmail has seen its usage rise 47%. It’s the fastest-growing online e-mail offering.” – Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY Apr 16, 2008

    4) Yahoo started 1997, Hotmail 1996, and Google started nearly 7 or 8 years after these two in April 2004 (when it began the beta release). This gives Yahoo/Hotmail a huge lead. As one user already put it, no one is just going to cancel their account to use Google. They just stop using it (or in my case signed up and never used).

    5) Lastly, the introduction of Gmail was one of the pioneering applications for AJAX development and increased mail storage to make it virtually unlimited. Both Yahoo and MSN both had to redesign much of their business models just to keep up.

    The other four of your items I agree with, but Gmail my friend is far from a dud or done deal. ;)

  • Naskar

    GMail a miss?!? What!!