Google, the world’s largest startup?

One thing that’s real interesting on my Google interviews is to listen to Mark Lucovsky talk about getting a customer Web developer’s request about Google’s new videobar, coding it during the evening, and having the change up on the guy’s site the next morning.

That brings me back to earlier this week when I complained about a splogger that was in Google and Technorati’s search engine. Both of those removed that guy within a few hours.

I’m hearing more and more about Google reacting quickly to feature requests on blogs like this.

That’s something I want to encourage more of. Can Microsoft keep up with this speed?

Why isn’t Ray Ozzie out in front of bloggers like Mark Lucovsky is? Is he going to “shock and awe” the world?

He just might have something cool up his sleeve, but I like the unexciting approach a lot better. I’m noticing a lot of the Google products I’m using are getting little updates every few days. Most you can’t even notice, but many you can.

Having a big company ship a fix that you request — and do it overnight — is very satisfying. It builds a brand loyalty that will be hard to beat.

What about you? Are you noticing this behavior at Microsoft? Yahoo? Google? Ask?

Comments

  1. I don’t know about the other sectors of Microsoft but the MSN team is great at responding/listening to requests and changes. They are very active at seeking out blogs and initiating communication to the bloggers who talk about the search engine.

  2. I don’t know about the other sectors of Microsoft but the MSN team is great at responding/listening to requests and changes. They are very active at seeking out blogs and initiating communication to the bloggers who talk about the search engine.

  3. Here is one (little) thing you could do. Add Estimated Time of Arrival to your podtech shows (how large is the file that I have to download?)

  4. Here is one (little) thing you could do. Add Estimated Time of Arrival to your podtech shows (how large is the file that I have to download?)

  5. So I’m curious…are little updates every day the right choice? There’s an audience for whom that’s great, and an audience that will get confused by a failure of consistency in what you put in front of them.

    Should companies with the reach of either Google or MS be pushing that level of change into people’s lives?

  6. So I’m curious…are little updates every day the right choice? There’s an audience for whom that’s great, and an audience that will get confused by a failure of consistency in what you put in front of them.

    Should companies with the reach of either Google or MS be pushing that level of change into people’s lives?

  7. Michelle is right. MSN, particularly the Live developers are very responsive to making things right. I’ve been a Windows Live Mail Beta user since they released it. I also use several other Live services, all of which, in my opinion, rival anything Google has to offer. Gmail is just another email client, but the way that MS has tied in everything with mail, spaces, messenger, etc. is astounding. The Live Ideas stuff is so much better than Google Labs, or for that matter, anything Yahoo, although I like the look of Yahoo’s Beta Mail client much better.

    You mentioned Ask.com. They are really getting impressive lately. Another great search engine that is completely based on Flash and that gets high marks in my book is http://www.kartoo.com/

    I think that all this Google hype is going to lead to some serious dissapointment in the future when they run out of ideas to keep the free software crowd hungry for nifty little software programs while struggling to come up with ad ideas. At least MS has money coming in from something besides ads. Google’s entire value is largely ads and mindshare. Their mindshare cannot last forever.

    As you mentioned in another of your posts, Robert, there is a backlash against Google forming among some geek circles, people that used to be diehard Google fans. I don’t think Google will be the colossal it currently is in, say, three or four years. By then, most software will be largely 100% online. Just remember, that 5 years in Internet time is an eon. Every Rome falls, and net-based Romes fall quicker than others. Alot of geeks I know who are very smart and very wired in to big businesses are of the opinion that the crash in 200-2001 is nothing compared to what is coming up. The net just cannot sustain this kind of growth with nothing there but free software apps like Google and Technorati, etc. Ads will not sustain the net forever.
    I think that Ray Ozzie is one of the brightest people in the history of IT, and I’m sure once he has creative control, that MS will be an on-the-edge company alot more than they are now.

  8. Michelle is right. MSN, particularly the Live developers are very responsive to making things right. I’ve been a Windows Live Mail Beta user since they released it. I also use several other Live services, all of which, in my opinion, rival anything Google has to offer. Gmail is just another email client, but the way that MS has tied in everything with mail, spaces, messenger, etc. is astounding. The Live Ideas stuff is so much better than Google Labs, or for that matter, anything Yahoo, although I like the look of Yahoo’s Beta Mail client much better.

    You mentioned Ask.com. They are really getting impressive lately. Another great search engine that is completely based on Flash and that gets high marks in my book is http://www.kartoo.com/

    I think that all this Google hype is going to lead to some serious dissapointment in the future when they run out of ideas to keep the free software crowd hungry for nifty little software programs while struggling to come up with ad ideas. At least MS has money coming in from something besides ads. Google’s entire value is largely ads and mindshare. Their mindshare cannot last forever.

    As you mentioned in another of your posts, Robert, there is a backlash against Google forming among some geek circles, people that used to be diehard Google fans. I don’t think Google will be the colossal it currently is in, say, three or four years. By then, most software will be largely 100% online. Just remember, that 5 years in Internet time is an eon. Every Rome falls, and net-based Romes fall quicker than others. Alot of geeks I know who are very smart and very wired in to big businesses are of the opinion that the crash in 200-2001 is nothing compared to what is coming up. The net just cannot sustain this kind of growth with nothing there but free software apps like Google and Technorati, etc. Ads will not sustain the net forever.
    I think that Ray Ozzie is one of the brightest people in the history of IT, and I’m sure once he has creative control, that MS will be an on-the-edge company alot more than they are now.

  9. #5 – periodic small updates != inconsistency or broken apps or failures.

    For my service, we focus on delivering incremental new value through new API capabilities and features, new solutions, etc.

    We have found the feature requests come from very large customers as well as very small guys getting a hundred or so page views a day on their sites. Both classes of customers like to get rapid updates so that they can move their applications forward in a timely manner.

  10. #5 – periodic small updates != inconsistency or broken apps or failures.

    For my service, we focus on delivering incremental new value through new API capabilities and features, new solutions, etc.

    We have found the feature requests come from very large customers as well as very small guys getting a hundred or so page views a day on their sites. Both classes of customers like to get rapid updates so that they can move their applications forward in a timely manner.

  11. lets real quick talk about Ray’s “live clipboard”. It’s very cool, but has anyone ever seen a live clipboard icon anywhere? I keep waiting… An idea like that should be announced, coded, and launched in a matter a weeks. Its over a year now and I have never seen it anywhere (Of course maybe live is filled with live clipboard?).

    I’m ready to go with live clipboard on my end and will gladly deliver clippable search results via the overly complex live clipboard mechanism.

    Ray is a great guy, BUT he sure is moving slowly. It will be nice once he engages. Anything that makes the web environment better is generally good for all of us. I for one look forward to his contributions.

  12. lets real quick talk about Ray’s “live clipboard”. It’s very cool, but has anyone ever seen a live clipboard icon anywhere? I keep waiting… An idea like that should be announced, coded, and launched in a matter a weeks. Its over a year now and I have never seen it anywhere (Of course maybe live is filled with live clipboard?).

    I’m ready to go with live clipboard on my end and will gladly deliver clippable search results via the overly complex live clipboard mechanism.

    Ray is a great guy, BUT he sure is moving slowly. It will be nice once he engages. Anything that makes the web environment better is generally good for all of us. I for one look forward to his contributions.

  13. blogger seems to be the unwanted stepchild of the google-verse. spend five min here: http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help

    and you’ll see that the 2 employees who do manage to stop by (sporadically at that) are not enough! I don’t get it…I’ve been satisfied with the stability of other google products so maybe they finally bit off more than they could handle?

  14. blogger seems to be the unwanted stepchild of the google-verse. spend five min here: http://groups.google.com/group/blogger-help

    and you’ll see that the 2 employees who do manage to stop by (sporadically at that) are not enough! I don’t get it…I’ve been satisfied with the stability of other google products so maybe they finally bit off more than they could handle?

  15. I have to agree about Ray. For all the hype, his approach has been a bit too subdued. He made a big splash about a new Microformat shortly after he arrived, suggesting this was the new way, with small iterative updates, but clearly that was a managed event in retrospect. Nothing since. I think the “machine” is weighing him down.

    Maybe its time for Microsoft to pull a “Baby Bell” and break itself up.

  16. I have to agree about Ray. For all the hype, his approach has been a bit too subdued. He made a big splash about a new Microformat shortly after he arrived, suggesting this was the new way, with small iterative updates, but clearly that was a managed event in retrospect. Nothing since. I think the “machine” is weighing him down.

    Maybe its time for Microsoft to pull a “Baby Bell” and break itself up.

  17. One, Mark is not Ray and Ray is not Mark. While Mark was certainly a VP type at MS with his DE title, he did not then nor does he now have the same responsibilities as Ray.

    Two, while what Mark did is certainly admirable, a model like that doesn’t scale.

    Three, and Mark is spot on about this…yes MS is a huge tanker that takes a long time time to turn. Unlike Google…..at the moment. Truely baffling little has been seen or heard of Live Clipboard since Ozzie “announced” it.

  18. One, Mark is not Ray and Ray is not Mark. While Mark was certainly a VP type at MS with his DE title, he did not then nor does he now have the same responsibilities as Ray.

    Two, while what Mark did is certainly admirable, a model like that doesn’t scale.

    Three, and Mark is spot on about this…yes MS is a huge tanker that takes a long time time to turn. Unlike Google…..at the moment. Truely baffling little has been seen or heard of Live Clipboard since Ozzie “announced” it.

  19. Blip.tv has the same attitude. Call now, see it a couple of hours from now. The fact that Google can do this at their size is encouraging. As a 35 year veteran of software development, all I can say is, woo hoo, no QA department!

  20. Blip.tv has the same attitude. Call now, see it a couple of hours from now. The fact that Google can do this at their size is encouraging. As a 35 year veteran of software development, all I can say is, woo hoo, no QA department!

  21. It’s all about context.

    Some things like web-based apps are great to have little, stable, working, non-slowing features added or tweaked on a daily/weekly basis. The more the better! I feel the web was made for that type of agility.

    Frequent updates though need to be balanced with over-complication. If you listen to every request out there you can quickly create a tangled mess services and features that bury and bewilder the average user.

    On the other hand there are still so many places that have no or limited internet connectivity that I am truely shocked at anyone that thinks a web-based OS or office suite is anything more than wishful thinking, at least for the next 5 to 10 years. As a software developer I’m daily reminded of how many companies do not allow their employees internet access, how often T1′s are cut, how just before the big meeting IT calls you to let you know they have to bounce the server or the router just crapped the bed.

    For those type of people and situations the last thing they want to hear is “we have a new version for you!” Us in the geek sector often forget that not everyone greets a new version with joy. For a lot of my end-users a new version means a half-day of lost work where they have to find an IT guy, get him to install the new version, either push it to their desktop or more likely actually walk to their machine and install it by hand.

    Lastly, while *new” features are great too often I see old features getting neglicated because the dev would rather play with something shiney. Everytime I see a new feature come out in a product that still has bugs I want to smack the developer so hard they only see in 2-bits.

  22. It’s all about context.

    Some things like web-based apps are great to have little, stable, working, non-slowing features added or tweaked on a daily/weekly basis. The more the better! I feel the web was made for that type of agility.

    Frequent updates though need to be balanced with over-complication. If you listen to every request out there you can quickly create a tangled mess services and features that bury and bewilder the average user.

    On the other hand there are still so many places that have no or limited internet connectivity that I am truely shocked at anyone that thinks a web-based OS or office suite is anything more than wishful thinking, at least for the next 5 to 10 years. As a software developer I’m daily reminded of how many companies do not allow their employees internet access, how often T1′s are cut, how just before the big meeting IT calls you to let you know they have to bounce the server or the router just crapped the bed.

    For those type of people and situations the last thing they want to hear is “we have a new version for you!” Us in the geek sector often forget that not everyone greets a new version with joy. For a lot of my end-users a new version means a half-day of lost work where they have to find an IT guy, get him to install the new version, either push it to their desktop or more likely actually walk to their machine and install it by hand.

    Lastly, while *new” features are great too often I see old features getting neglicated because the dev would rather play with something shiney. Everytime I see a new feature come out in a product that still has bugs I want to smack the developer so hard they only see in 2-bits.

  23. What I am noticing is Microsoft is really trying to target the “non-geek” crowd especially with the launch of msdewey.com. I showed the link to my sister who apparently sent it to her friends etc and it’s getting major approval from the Miami non-geeks just watching her even though the search features is…broken… (yes, I know some of the major tech blogs find Ms.Dewey annoying but if MSN is targeting the younger crowd, then Ms.Dewey seems to be working. Although I would have done something more middleground like a dog or cat…transformer?)

    Anyways, Google’s product is very innovative but it always seems to be geared towards tech people. In addition, they’ve created a lot of useful things such as the mail fletcher but alerting people about it…not so great! I’ve just recently discovered “Scholar” search and heck, my background is medicine and I have to meet a doctor, pharmacist, nurse who knows what Google Scholar is!

    I think that Google or Microsoft needs a “people” person whose sole job is to talk to its users. For example, Flickr – Catherine Fake, Myspace – Tom. They spoke to their users and made ‘em feel like they’re being heard…that Flickr / Myspace is their “friend.” Who is our “friend” from MSN or Google?

    Creating great applications is one thing but …making a ‘friend’ out of your users..would keep ‘em loyal or at least they’ll give you second chances even if your application sucks.

  24. What I am noticing is Microsoft is really trying to target the “non-geek” crowd especially with the launch of msdewey.com. I showed the link to my sister who apparently sent it to her friends etc and it’s getting major approval from the Miami non-geeks just watching her even though the search features is…broken… (yes, I know some of the major tech blogs find Ms.Dewey annoying but if MSN is targeting the younger crowd, then Ms.Dewey seems to be working. Although I would have done something more middleground like a dog or cat…transformer?)

    Anyways, Google’s product is very innovative but it always seems to be geared towards tech people. In addition, they’ve created a lot of useful things such as the mail fletcher but alerting people about it…not so great! I’ve just recently discovered “Scholar” search and heck, my background is medicine and I have to meet a doctor, pharmacist, nurse who knows what Google Scholar is!

    I think that Google or Microsoft needs a “people” person whose sole job is to talk to its users. For example, Flickr – Catherine Fake, Myspace – Tom. They spoke to their users and made ‘em feel like they’re being heard…that Flickr / Myspace is their “friend.” Who is our “friend” from MSN or Google?

    Creating great applications is one thing but …making a ‘friend’ out of your users..would keep ‘em loyal or at least they’ll give you second chances even if your application sucks.

  25. Mark: on the last day I was at Microsoft I looked at Bill Gates’ Think Week papers (er, intranet site). Very few of Microsoft employees’ ideas were aimed at the Web.

    Can Ray turn that around? Does it matter that only a few percent of Microsoft’s employees are aimed at the Web?

    That will be the question of 2007, won’t it?

  26. Mark: on the last day I was at Microsoft I looked at Bill Gates’ Think Week papers (er, intranet site). Very few of Microsoft employees’ ideas were aimed at the Web.

    Can Ray turn that around? Does it matter that only a few percent of Microsoft’s employees are aimed at the Web?

    That will be the question of 2007, won’t it?

  27. Breaking up MS would be the greatest thing that ever happened to Microsoft and to the technology world. Investors would win a million times over and so would the end user. Sigh, it’s too bad that those in charge of MS simply fail to see this grander vision of what could be.

    AT&T broke up and we have everything that you have seen for the last 30 years. Imagine if Ma Bell had stayed together and we were leasing special phone lines to access the Internet… would modems have taken off the way that they did?

  28. Breaking up MS would be the greatest thing that ever happened to Microsoft and to the technology world. Investors would win a million times over and so would the end user. Sigh, it’s too bad that those in charge of MS simply fail to see this grander vision of what could be.

    AT&T broke up and we have everything that you have seen for the last 30 years. Imagine if Ma Bell had stayed together and we were leasing special phone lines to access the Internet… would modems have taken off the way that they did?

  29. Customer loyalty is not about what you sell/give to your consumer, it’s about how you react to them. When you react, it’s proof positive that somebody was listening.

  30. Customer loyalty is not about what you sell/give to your consumer, it’s about how you react to them. When you react, it’s proof positive that somebody was listening.

  31. Google somehow changed the Mobile version of Reader on my phone’s browser so it didn’t display any items. I emailed a bug report and they fixed it a few days later. Can’t be sure it was related but it was impressive that they caught it so quickly.

  32. Google somehow changed the Mobile version of Reader on my phone’s browser so it didn’t display any items. I emailed a bug report and they fixed it a few days later. Can’t be sure it was related but it was impressive that they caught it so quickly.

  33. I wrote a feature request for Google Reader, and an engineer responded within 13 hours. I don’t have the blog or status of you, however, there was an in depth and informative response quickly. I have never experienced that with Microsoft. I felt like Google listened to me and it strengthened my trust and belief.

  34. I wrote a feature request for Google Reader, and an engineer responded within 13 hours. I don’t have the blog or status of you, however, there was an in depth and informative response quickly. I have never experienced that with Microsoft. I felt like Google listened to me and it strengthened my trust and belief.

  35. @16. Robert, I think that is the big question for Microsoft. Ray is not Bill and there appear to be a lot of legacy Bill people still running the various product teams. So, there is a lot of ingrained DNA about how to build and sell software that Ozzie will have to overcome. Most of them will likely feel threatened by Ozzie’s “vision”. Short Microsoft of you see hints of Ozzie not making any progress

  36. @16. Robert, I think that is the big question for Microsoft. Ray is not Bill and there appear to be a lot of legacy Bill people still running the various product teams. So, there is a lot of ingrained DNA about how to build and sell software that Ozzie will have to overcome. Most of them will likely feel threatened by Ozzie’s “vision”. Short Microsoft of you see hints of Ozzie not making any progress

  37. Yes, Ms. Dewey is a bit annoying but I can see it working for the non-geeks.

    What I want to know is how they got Maria Bartiromo to do it. ;-)

  38. Yes, Ms. Dewey is a bit annoying but I can see it working for the non-geeks.

    What I want to know is how they got Maria Bartiromo to do it. ;-)

  39. Google is the biggest “dope” pusher in the biz.
    I’ve had to uninstall Google’s toolbar, destop search, etc from my family members’ computers multiple times, as it keeps getting installed without any explicit request to install it. Why? Because when installing certain software (like Flash/ShockWave, Adobe Acrobat Reader, various other things that everyone wants), the installer comes with a “Install Google Toolbar” and/or “Install Google Desktop” option, with the checkbox pre-checked! Nobody bothers to read that checkbox, let alone uncheck it, so they end up with Google ware on their computer, unwanted.

    BTW, Google released their customized version of IE7.
    http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2006/12/13/google-and-web-de-release-customized-ie7.aspx

    Which is fine, since many are doing it (like Yahoo).
    But here’s the thing – If you install the Googleized IE7 or install the Google Toolbar on any version of IE7, then Google prevents you from changing IE7′s default search provider to anything other than Google! Read the “I’ts Official: Google is evil” section of this page:
    http://www.windowsitpro.com/windowspaulthurrott/Article/ArticleID/94600/windowspaulthurrott_94600.html

    And, Google is getting OEMs to install Google’s wares by default (Dell’s already been doing this for a while), so when a user buys a computer in which the OEM preinstalled Googleized IE7, the user is prevented from changing the search provider away from Google (almost as bad as Mac’s Safari being locked into Google, but at least IE7 still has secondary search engines besides the default, while Safari has Google as the locked-in exclusive search provider).

    BTW, the above windowsitpro.com page also says that Google’s phishing filter gives away your private information (as admitted by Google’s own license agreement).

    It’s things like this (not to mention the whole debacle where Google blatantly ripped off Yahoo’s IE7 page), that is giving rise to the slow but steadily growing anti-Google backlash.

  40. Google is the biggest “dope” pusher in the biz.
    I’ve had to uninstall Google’s toolbar, destop search, etc from my family members’ computers multiple times, as it keeps getting installed without any explicit request to install it. Why? Because when installing certain software (like Flash/ShockWave, Adobe Acrobat Reader, various other things that everyone wants), the installer comes with a “Install Google Toolbar” and/or “Install Google Desktop” option, with the checkbox pre-checked! Nobody bothers to read that checkbox, let alone uncheck it, so they end up with Google ware on their computer, unwanted.

    BTW, Google released their customized version of IE7.
    http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2006/12/13/google-and-web-de-release-customized-ie7.aspx

    Which is fine, since many are doing it (like Yahoo).
    But here’s the thing – If you install the Googleized IE7 or install the Google Toolbar on any version of IE7, then Google prevents you from changing IE7′s default search provider to anything other than Google! Read the “I’ts Official: Google is evil” section of this page:
    http://www.windowsitpro.com/windowspaulthurrott/Article/ArticleID/94600/windowspaulthurrott_94600.html

    And, Google is getting OEMs to install Google’s wares by default (Dell’s already been doing this for a while), so when a user buys a computer in which the OEM preinstalled Googleized IE7, the user is prevented from changing the search provider away from Google (almost as bad as Mac’s Safari being locked into Google, but at least IE7 still has secondary search engines besides the default, while Safari has Google as the locked-in exclusive search provider).

    BTW, the above windowsitpro.com page also says that Google’s phishing filter gives away your private information (as admitted by Google’s own license agreement).

    It’s things like this (not to mention the whole debacle where Google blatantly ripped off Yahoo’s IE7 page), that is giving rise to the slow but steadily growing anti-Google backlash.

  41. [...] Interesting that Scoble has such influence with Google.  I clicked "apply" for a job I saw on HotJobs and found that I had already applied almost four months ago.  Oh, well, let me check the date again. Today?  How could I have applied if the job was just added today?. The respose I got from their service rep is that this is a service they provide to allow job postings to come back to the top of the list.  It is similar to the way that editing your resume makes it appear newer. Four months?  Give me a break.  The difference is this: [...]

  42. I had a similar experience when Google launched their custom search. The custom search engine API had certain restrictions and was not accepting labels. Exchanged couple of mails with Mark Lucovsky and the feature was rolled out within 24 hours.

  43. I had a similar experience when Google launched their custom search. The custom search engine API had certain restrictions and was not accepting labels. Exchanged couple of mails with Mark Lucovsky and the feature was rolled out within 24 hours.

  44. @25. Yeah, I remember that one. Hey, I looked at your post. We definitely support site restriction on blog search. For blog and news, we also let you order by relevance or by date.

    You know, you can use custom search engines for blogs too. Check out my blog:
    http://googleajaxsearchapi.blogspot.com/

    Do a search from the form in the upper right and you will see us spill search results into the center column. The all google blogs tab is a CSE I created for all google blogs…

  45. @25. Yeah, I remember that one. Hey, I looked at your post. We definitely support site restriction on blog search. For blog and news, we also let you order by relevance or by date.

    You know, you can use custom search engines for blogs too. Check out my blog:
    http://googleajaxsearchapi.blogspot.com/

    Do a search from the form in the upper right and you will see us spill search results into the center column. The all google blogs tab is a CSE I created for all google blogs…

  46. The bottom line in my book is that listening to feedback keeps you grounded and lets you know what a lot of people want next. Reading blogs and comments on the web provides a huge amount of prioritization in my book: fix what people complain about.

    Sometimes that’s not possible. For example, if we provided the Custom Search Engine without any ads, then I’m sure some Google partners would be asking why they pay for search results when CSE could give them results for free. But most of the time, getting the opinion of the blogosphere is the best type of market research–it’s like having all the smart people in one room.

    P.S. Robert, I’m about to drop you an email about
    http://scobleizer.com/2006/12/14/google-and-technorati-blog-search-rewards-sploggers/
    The blogsearch team looked into it, and it’s because you’re pinging us twice: once with a nice RSS 2.0 feed, and once with an older RSS 0.92 feed.

    P.P.S. Getting problem reports like the one in the last paragraph also make sure that we know about important stuff quickly and tackle it soon. Thanks for mentioning it.

  47. The bottom line in my book is that listening to feedback keeps you grounded and lets you know what a lot of people want next. Reading blogs and comments on the web provides a huge amount of prioritization in my book: fix what people complain about.

    Sometimes that’s not possible. For example, if we provided the Custom Search Engine without any ads, then I’m sure some Google partners would be asking why they pay for search results when CSE could give them results for free. But most of the time, getting the opinion of the blogosphere is the best type of market research–it’s like having all the smart people in one room.

    P.S. Robert, I’m about to drop you an email about
    http://scobleizer.com/2006/12/14/google-and-technorati-blog-search-rewards-sploggers/
    The blogsearch team looked into it, and it’s because you’re pinging us twice: once with a nice RSS 2.0 feed, and once with an older RSS 0.92 feed.

    P.P.S. Getting problem reports like the one in the last paragraph also make sure that we know about important stuff quickly and tackle it soon. Thanks for mentioning it.