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I think equating Wave to a 'big' risk is a bit much, financially there was no risk. All they lost was face.

Also Chrome and Android are not successes, Google Adwords is a success, MS Office is a success, MS Windows is a success. The key ingredient to a success for a company is some MONEY. Anything else is just showing off.

I'm still very disappointed with the follow through on Wave and Buzz, a bit of PR and a few man years of engineering is pretty minor compared to the profit they make. The 'oh well, it didn't work, we're giving up' attitude Google has been displaying recently is pretty disconcerting.

We may all hate MS, but at least they tend to follow through with some serious chops when the going gets tough (I'm thinking Silverlight rather than Danger).

I'm actually getting a little worried about Google's follow through on certain projects, as an external company I wouldn't be putting any investment in any of their new products given their recent track record.

I'm also not keen on Google 'competing' in the 'oh, we'll make money through search advertising' way they're doing recently. It's stifling innovation in certain markets imo.

Actually, rereading my post, I really don't agree with Paul very much.

On the other hand, I still think they're great, if a worrying monopoly. It could be worse though, Google could be run by Zynga.

Chrome and Android are both a huge success. Google takes a long-term view which doesn't require every product to immediately pay for itself, which is very smart. The long term value of owning these platforms is immense.

Also, your notion that "Wave was not a risk" is similarly mistaken. The opportunity cost of having a large team of smart people working for several years is enormous.

If you want to argue that we should take the long view with respect to Chrome and Android making money, then I would counter with needing to take the long view with respect to their being a success as well. The OP was (IMO) correct - a product's success, when done by a private company, is whether or not it improves the company's bottom line. I don't think that that claim can be made about Chrome or Android at the moment. I certainly doubt whether the little money they are currently making out of Android would not be largely blown aware by another allocation of that energy and resources.

That's not to say that in the long term these products don't end up being major successes, but until they start making money, that claim can't be made.

You should read some material on microeconomics and about complementary products. That's not arguing, it's how the economy currently works.

     a product's success ...
     is whether or not it improves the company's bottom line
Microsoft controlling the platform through Windows and IExplorer hasn't improved their bottom line?

RedHat paying high wages to highly skilled kernel hackers to work on (get this, open-source software) hasn't improved their bottom line?

     until they start making money, that claim can't be made
Because, you know, Apple and Microsoft installing Bing alternatives (Maps / Search) on their phone operating systems wouldn't affect Google in no way whatsoever.


I find it quite baffling actually that so many people are criticizing investments made by Google, Apple or Microsoft; These are big companies that grew to unimaginable levels in just a few years (with respect to oil mining which can take a few generations to reach a fraction of that size).

You should really learn from them, because not so many companies can achieve what they did ;-)

You're not replying to my point. I didn't say that Android and Chrome wouldn't end up being critical products that add to Google's bottom line. I said that right at the moment, that's not the case, and until it does become the case, you can't claim that they're a success.

It's important to read what is written, not what you think is written ;) (yeah, I find the winky smiley annoying when it's placed after a condescending remark)

Do you think such a long term view is allowed because of the legacy of figuring out search engine advertising?

Clearly the money is coming from somewhere :)

Using that advantage to invest in the future is the right way to build a long-term business. Focusing only on milking the current business is what leads a company to eventual disruption and collapse (because something new will come along that hurts the old business).

I do wonder about dividends, returning value to the shareholders. Should they start issuing dividends? If not, when and why should a company?

There's a big difference between "opportunity cost" and "risk". Wave had huge potential upside and I completely agree that it's a good example of Google looking to go big; but they approached it in a risk-averse way, and it didn't work out.

Also Chrome and Android are not successes... The key ingredient to a success for a company is some MONEY

Android is profitable, which is pretty impressive for such a big project. I'm not sure how big the team is, but it's gotta be many hundreds, if not thousands of people.

And Chrome is probably profitable too. Google pays Mozilla Corp somewhere north of $50 million a year. Chrome has about a quarter of FF's share, so they're making Google at least $12.5m/year. Probably much more, given that Google surely profits off of their Firefox deal. Not sure how big their dev team is, but it was apparently only four in '08. Even if it's 20 people now, that's probably a million dollars in revenue per employee.

Seriously, if you started a phone OS business that went from 0 handsets to being the 2nd best selling phone OS in the world in two years and hit profitability in the same timeframe, you wouldn't consider that a financial success?

And tell Flock that a 10% share of the web browser market is financial failure.

Not only is Android profitable, but dominance and prominence on a consumer device makes it that much easier for Google to push its other products.

Think about Maps on Android vs. iPhone - one is a lot more full featured and up to date with Google's tech than the other. Android being the de facto standard smartphone platform would be immensely useful to Google's other products.

e.g. Google Voice simply does not integrate well into the Apple user experience, but does so flawlessly on Android.

Google is vertically integrating the entire stack between them and the user - this is a great thing for Google, and not every link in the chain needs to make money doing it.

At some point, you have to acknowledge that you lost. It's much better to do that than to force people to work on something that everybody knows lost, or at least is worse than the competition. That's what 'follow-through' amounts to. One way that Google is still even vaguely an acceptable place to work is that it allows a fair amount of freedom about what to work on, and nobody good wants to work on something that clearly lost.

Also, it's unclear that success is measured by direct profit from that project. For example, the world with Android is clearly much more promising for Google's continued revenue growth than one without Android. Mainly, Google is the only company with the software chops to write and maintain iPhone-clone software that even vaguely works and the cash and testicles to negotiate with carriers. If Google didn't continue to bang hard on Android, all the non-iPhone smartphones would suck fairly seriously, and Apple would probably cut pretty seriously into Google's ad profits, despite Apple's ads not being as effective, purely because Apple controlled the dominant smartphone platform. Apple might also have a much stronger influence over the tablet web experience, beyond than just having written the first tablet web browser that worked.

(Disclaimer: I like iOS better than Android, having owned both.)

The funny thing about Google Buzz is it's so simple that it can't die. It can always be integrated into any other Google service. For example, you can view geo-tagged Buzz messages in Maps for Android.

I was really surprised to see the parent voted down. I thought it made some interesting points quite articulately and added to the conversation not matter whether or not you agree.

I was under the impression that Android was profitable by itself- though I'm not sure where the money is coming from. Certification/contract work with manufacturers?

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