It might be an unpopular opinion in the digital marketing world, but Google isn’t perfect. The search engine giants has certainly revolutionised the online world over the past few years and, now that the entire company is making the shift into the Alphabet company layout, it looks like it will have more of an effect on the world outside of the digital as well.
The fact remains, however, that Google’s seventeen year history is not one long example of success – it may have grown from a start up into the major search engine, worth billions of dollars every year, but it has made some mistakes along the way.
From products, to services and even simple failures that could have made Google even bigger than it already is, we thought we’d list a few of the major mistakes that the company has made over the years.
10 – Google Video Player
Some people will say that it is unfair to label Google’s Video as a failure, particularly as it never really had a chance to develop. Launched in late January 2005, it was less than two years later that Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion.
Today, YouTube is worth in excess of $45 billion, and any video that you could ever find on Google Video has been transferred over. Whilst the service itself was not necessarily a failure, it still failed in the face of the behemoth service that is YouTube. All in all, Google Video lasted 24 months; just two years.
9 – Google Buzz
Google’s has always been a little slow in the social media side of things. Essentially, Buzz was Google’s clone to Twitter. It was integrated directly into Gmail, and allowed users to post links, photos, status updates and videos directly from their email.
Google tends to do extremely well if they are the first ones into a market, but Buzz couldn’t seem to gain any traction compared to other social media services, like Twitter. The service was also riddled with privacy concerns and didn’t really offer anything that Google didn’t.
All in all, Buzz lasted for as little as 22 months.
8 – Google Answers
Another one of Google’s failed concepts, Google Answers was a strange idea. Essentially, a user would pay a researcher to answer a question that they had and Google would take a cut of it. Whilst a unique idea and it offered benefits for all parties involved, it seemed that users preferred not to pay for their replies and opted to use forums and other services such as Yahoo! Answers.
With the incredible variety of information available through the Google search engine service itself, it seemed ridiculous to expect people to pay for information which they could easily find themselves. Of course, Yahoo! Answers has its own issues, and often more closely resembles a teenage chat room, but there are a range of other services available, including Quora, or simply asking friends on Facebook.
7 – Failing To Buy Groupon
Some smaller businesses have decided to take part of their advertising budget and, rather than compete through Google’s service, are utilising it into daily deals sites like Groupon. As they so often do, Google saw the trend developing and wanted in. The search engine giant bid as much as $6 billion for Groupon, but the site refused and the deal broke down.
6 – Overlooking Twitter When It Was Cheap
Google has tried to buy Twitter multiple times over the past few years, offering bids from $2.5 and $10 billion. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t close the deal. This purchase would have been a massive advantage to Google and allow them to effectively kick-start their social efforts. As a result, Google ended up having to start from scratch with Google+.
5 – Underestimating Facebook
Google’s history of social media failure stretches back further than you might think. In 2006, Google paid $900 million for the right to power search through MySpace – unfortunately for them, they made the deal just before MySpace was eclipsed by Facebook.
The following year, the company allowed tech giant Microsoft to outbid it to obtain a small stake in Facebook, at an insane valuation of $15 billion. Now, Bing is using Facebook’s social information to improve its own search results, whilst Google has to build its own social search functions.
4 – Neglecting Content Owners
Over the years, Google has had something of a troubled relationship with content creators who aren’t dedicated to improving their SEO. Buying YouTube whilst it still had lots of pirated content, whilst a clever move on their part, severely impacted the company’s relationship with a range of film makers, musicians and other creative people. Following this, the company was slow to roll out a system dedicated to taking down pirated content, and there has been a great deal of controversy around content ownership and the taking down of videos which contain very little or no intellectual property.
All in all, Google has done very little to endear itself to content creators and owners.
3 – Google Wave
Originally known as Google Wave, renamed Apache Wave, this service was a software framework for real-time collaborative editing online. Google originally explained the service as “A wave is a live, shared space on the web where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more.” One of the developer’s of the service also said that “Wave is what email would look like if it were invented today”.
Despite their grand designs for the service, Wave didn’t even last 15 months as users simply weren’t interested in the features of the service.
2 – Investing In AOL
Back in 2005, AOL was one of the largest email providers in the world. Therefore, it isn’t really that surprising that Google decided to plunge $1 billion into America Online for a 5% stake in the company. In 2009, AOL’s revenue had fallen by 23% and Google sold its stake in the company for $283 million – big mistake.
1 – Google’s A Little Bit Racist
An example, if there ever was one, which we are still some years away from the machines taking over the world, as Google showed the limitations of its algorithms in one of the worst ways imaginable. Google’s Photos application mistakenly tagged images of coloured people as Gorillas.
Jacky Alciné, a web developer who spotted the error, tweeted:
Google Photos, y'all fucked up. My friend's not a gorilla. pic.twitter.com/SMkMCsNVX4
— Jacky Alciné (@jackyalcine) June 29, 2015
Although it was only an algorithm mistake, it was the kind of exposure that Google really could have done without, issued an apology which stated that “This is 100% not OK”.
Now that Google is reorganising under the Alphabet logo, this could be an opportunity to wipe away the mistakes of the past and start again. With Googlees various efforts being split up amongst a wide range of separate businesses, any mistakes made in other areas will be more visible, but may not necessarily come back to harm Googlees reputation in the way that these previous mistakes have done.
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