Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Google is making the same mistakes Microsoft made. Trying to enter into every industry it can thinking it can use it's monopoly power to take over the world. Reality: Doing 20 things mediocrely is not as profitable of doing 2 things very very well.

Result:

1) Constant experiments and dropped products (just like Microsoft).

2) Consumers no longer trust your services to stick around and no longer even invest in your platforms (*see most of Microsoft's offerings).

3) The services you do have aren't the highest quality and your brand takes a hit as being "giant mediocre corporation" like Microsoft instead of "high quality company" like Apple.

The more things change the more they stay the same.




Completely agree. I'm so disappointed in Google for having Checkout for years and not doing anything serious with it. I really wanted it to become a serious alternative to Paypal. But it's like they never even tried.

And it turned out to be huge mistake for them because they could've really used Checkout accounts from day one of Android, to get people to pay for Android apps. I still believe this has been one of the biggest obstacles on Android, because you need Google Wallet (which is brand new service, I guess) account to pay for apps, and obviously the vast majority of people didn't have one, and didn't bother to make one either, and they'd rather look for the free alternative of the app.

It's been getting a bit better since Android 4.0, since they are asking everyone to make an account at the set-up, but they are still behind, and it could've been much better early on if Checkout was popular.


As someone who used to recruit for Google, and watched the team recruit THOUSANDS of developers only to discontinue product after product, wtf are these guys all doing?


what do you mean "could replace paypal"?

I use google checkout for pretty much everything I can't buy at amazon. It's accepted at lots and lots of places. and usually it's my deciding factor when selecting for two stores.

I don't use paypal because their system sucks if you have international credit cards and because of the lack of moral grounds they showed. never missed it (but then, i don't send money to random people, just merchants)

edit: well, used.


He means it in the sense that most people stick to PayPal and your story is nothing but a blip. Google never gave enough incentive for most people to leave PayPal for Checkout. I doubt the majority of my PayPal using friends have ever heard of Checkout, let alone used it.


i don't think checkout can even be used to exchange money. only pay for stuff... but good point.


As a merchant who doesn't live in the US -- I don't think I can sell anything but Android apps with Google Checkout.

Paypal still wants my business.


>what do you mean "could replace paypal"? I use google checkout for pretty much everything I can't buy at amazon. It's accepted at lots and lots of places. and usually it's my deciding factor when selecting for two stores.

He means you're an outlier, checkout wasn't going anywhere and nobody used it, and it wasn't even international (as PayPal is).


They haven't done anything with Google Finance either, and bugs seem to go a long time before they're fixed.


Seems like they'll close all outstanding bugs by shutting that down, too.


> Reality: Doing 20 things mediocrely is not as profitable of doing 2 things very very well.

Reality also is that there is often a declining marginal value in additional investments in the same area once you are already doing very well in that area, and that the marginal profit from doing something else mediocre may be greater than the marginal profit from doing the existing thing a tiny bit better.

And lots of Google's experiments that are outside of what are understood to be its core strengths when they are introduced end up as things that are at the top of their field: Gmail and Chrome, for instance, weren't at the center of what Google did when they were introduced.


Gmail was, sort of anyway. It opened another avenue to deliver advertising, which is the center of what google does.


You've got it backwards. They built Gmail as a fun project to improve a product in an area they didn't specialize in, then worked the ads in after the fact to monetize when it became popular.


I would posit that Google isn't doing well in search from a quality perspective, but obviously they are doing very well from a market share perspective. This just means they are ripe for disruption.


> I would posit that Google isn't doing well in search from a quality perspective, but obviously they are doing very well from a market share perspective. This just means they are ripe for disruption.

By what standard? If its just your personal subjective interpretation, it just means that someone has an opportunity to steal you away as a consumer.

If there really is a broadly-shared, unmet need among Google's current consumer base that is both technically feasible to address and easier to address in a new platform (either technically or for social -- e.g., for organizational inertia reasons) than it would be for Google to implement in their own services, then, yes, Google is ripe for disruption.

But lots of people (including people selling rival search engines sponsored by deep pockets rivals) have been saying that since shortly after Google became the dominant search engine, so unless you are going to spend the effort to either make a credible case as to the specific unmet need that supports your claim that Google is ripe for disruption (and "I would posit that Google isn't doing well in search from a quality perspective" is the polar opposite of "specific" here) or, better yet, show me the MVP of your product that not only identifies the unmet need but demonstrates the feasibility of meeting it, I don't see much substance to your position.


Do a search for just about any topic (like "kite sailing" or "Star Wars") and tell me how many pages until you get to a site that wasn't created by a corporation.


> Do a search for just about any topic (like "kite sailing" or "Star Wars") and tell me how many pages until you get to a site that wasn't created by a corporation.

First: That doesn't specifically identify a broadly-shared need among Google's existing user base that Google isn't meeting.

Second, when I do a search for either of those I get personal blogs and/or fan sites on the first page. So, unless your problem is that that shouldn't be the case, I think the perceived situation you were obliquely referencing isn't even accurate.


>I would posit that Google isn't doing well in search from a quality perspective

That would only be true if there was a search engine with better quality results.

I agree that Google has dropped it's quality (compared to itself) but it's still better than anything else.


That's a myopic way to look at it, in my opinion. If there is a quality deficit in search Google is in the best position to remedy it. And if they don't, someone else eventually will. As the parent pointed out, there isn't much marginal value in adding investment in an area that you are dominating. And this is almost always the downfall of market leaders.


Um, did you read the post or just the headline. Aren't they just replacing Google Checkout with Google Wallet and isn't Google Wallet better than Google Checkout? It sounds like an upgrade to me. What am I missing?

Is it just a messaging problem? If they had instead said "We're renaming Google Checkout to Google Wallet. We're introducing API v2. API v1 is deprecated and will be turned off in 6 months so upgrade your apps." would that have changed your response?


No, that is not accurate. Google Checkout processes payments for the merchant, and Google deposits the funds in the merchant's bank account.

With the new system, Google has an API to give you the users information, but the merchant must have some way of processing the payment.

So these two are not the same at all.

I can tell you for my ecommerce site, I intend to drop Google Wallet altogether.. After the numerous Froogle/Google shopping api changes, I have no hope that the new api will stick around for any reasonable amount of time. So I just don't think it's worth the effort.

Edit: for comparison to Google Checkout, I get roughly 15x the number of orders with PayPal.. and 25x the number of orders from Visa/MC/Dscv/Amex.

Google's implementation of Checkout was flawed from the start (esp how they handled/treated merchants).. So I'm not surprised it didn't go anywhere.


"Google's implementation of Checkout was flawed from the start (esp how they handled/treated merchants)"

I don't mean this to sound like Google treated its merchants badly.. because that's not the case. Google was ok, and I don't have any bad stories to tell. But several of their policies were not pro-merchant (some outright anti-merchant)... it was as if the entire thing (from the interface, the policies, etc) was put together by someone who had never used another payment processor in their life. It was like someone just sat down one day, decided how it should work, and did it.. without bothering to understand what any of their competitors were doing.

I don't know how true that is.. but that is what it seemed like from the beginning.


Saying that Google Checkout is being replaced is extremely misleading to merchants. Almost all Google Checkout merchants process less than a million with Google Checkout, so it is not worth it for them to do their own credit card processing or if they are large enough, there isn't enough of a value prop to use the wallet API.

The Wallet API was announced back in November, but it seems never caught on. I remember that 1800 Flowers and Rockport were offering discounts to customers that used Buy with Wallet, but this doesn't seem very successful by the lack of top merchants that aren't adopting it (even when there is a financial incentive like when Google funded the discounts for Rockport and 1800 flowers). Yes all people that buy Android apps have a Google Wallet account, but they aren't using this account outside of the Android ecosystem.

The customer support for checkout just isn't there as well. It has always been via email and extremely slow. With Paypal if you do over 200k then you get a dedicated account manager and they always have phone support. It has always seemed like a product that they are trying to make solve a problem it isn't equipped to handle- like having Android developers setup a Google Checkout account in order to get paid. It isn't designed for developer needs but it works well enough to get by.


The "Wallet for digital goods API" continues to process transactions for you, so there is still processing in Wallet.

Besides that, as far as I can see a merchant would be more likely to get volume discounts on their transactions by funneling them into one payment processor. In this way the thinner Wallet API would seem like an improvement given that no merchant will have Wallet as their sole supplier of transaction processing (as you point out, most people order with CC). Fewer merchant accounts should also lead to less administration.


'The "Wallet for digital goods API" continues to process transactions for you, so there is still processing in Wallet.'

Checkout was used by merchants that sell physical goods. So the digital goods api is irrelevant.


> Google's implementation of Checkout was flawed from the start (esp how they handled/treated merchants).. So I'm not surprised it didn't go anywhere.

As you say, Google's implementation was flawed from start. Doesn't it make sense then to fix it and make things right?


I'm all for Google fixing things and making their service(s) better.. but....

I have no idea if Wallet is better than Checkout, since I haven't used Wallet. For all I know Google made the same mistakes with that service as well.

But the biggest reason I don't plan to go along with Wallet: the complete neglect of Checkout. Checkout launched in 2006. I signed up around 2008. Want to know how many improvements Google has made to the service (excluding minor policy changes)? The answer is 0. The service never changed as far as I could tell. Google never fixed a single issue with their interface. They never fixed the major policy issues.

Shortly after Wallet launched in 2011, Google renamed part of the service: When consumers buy an item using Checkout, they are using Google Wallet. So these services are not completely unrelated. I would not be surprised if Google kept many of their policies and other problems...

It does sound like Google has given Wallet a lot more attention than they did Checkout. But I also remember the hype they gave Checkout when it launched.. and this in many ways feels similar.

Checkout could have been quite good. It could have competed with PayPal (like they wanted it to).. It was probably 90% of the way there... but instead of improving the service, they did nothing with it for 5 years.. then they developed a replacement.. and now they're telling everyone on Checkout that it's dead, and they should move to a new, but very similar service.


> As you say, Google's implementation was flawed from start. Doesn't it make sense then to fix it and make things right?

From their perspective, that's what Wallet is.

The thing is, you seem to see Google Checkout as centrally being "credit card processing" and the implementation problem being how Google handled credit card processing.

Google, more than likely, say Google Checkout's value proposition as "enabling users to pay for goods and services using their Google Account" and the implementation problem being "it required us to be a credit card processor".


1) There was nothing wrong with google credit card processing. 2) the value prop you just wrote was not the value prop google had for checkout. They were clear checkout was to compete with paypal.

wallet fits your value prop.. that came 5 years later


I'm not a merchant, but it sounds like there's a bigger difference from that side -"If you don't have your own payment processing, you will need to transition to a different solution within six months. To make things easier, we've partnered with Braintree, Shopify and " to offer you discounted migration options. "


Actually that would have been a more logical way to put it.

edit: IOW I agree with you.


Except they seem to be doing a great job jumping into new products and services?

Google Wallet looks like a big improvement over their old system.


  Google Wallet looks like a big improvement over their old system.
I'm not trying to be a dick: How?


I said looks like because as a developer I haven't used Checkout vs Wallet APIs, but people I've spoken with have told me Wallet is a lot easier to work with. Also Wallet is already on millions of consumer devices and likely has far more users already in their system. This doesn't mean it wouldn't have been better to merge the two products, but seeing as they are disparate systems Wallet looks like the superior of the two.


> Google is making the same mistakes Microsoft made. Trying to enter into every industry it can thinking it can use it's monopoly power to take over the world.

I call this the Spaghetti Cannon strategy.

Load up a cannon with cash and different ideas, blow up the cash and see what sticks to the wall.

If we redrew the corporate boundaries of Google and Microsoft, we'd see them as investment firms tasked with turning a reliable long term cashflows into new reliable long term cashflows. Quasi-venture firms.

So far, Google has advertising. And that's it.

Microsoft have Windows, Office, Server & Tools and Xbox.

So in actual fact, Microsoft are proving that yeah, it sorta works. Sorta.


Apparently this strategy seems to work also for hardware. Look at Samsung.


Samsung is focusing on a much smaller number of devices than they used to. Yes, they have more than Apple, but they also spend way more on advertising to make up for it.

Instead of hundreds of phones, they have maybe a dozen now that they actively promote. Right now I can't leave the house without being bombarded by Samsung advertising, they're in some kind of feverish campaign over their new Note phone-tablet-thing.


They are actually turning back to that. The are at least 5 new different variants coming up of their S4 "flagship": S4 regular, S4 Google Edition, S4 Mini, S4 Active, S4 Zoom, S4 Mega.

And that's just for one "phone brand". Imagine if they do this to every other phone brand of theirs, which are already being called all "Galaxy". Samsung strategy is becoming a mess again. It will work in the short term (a year or so), and then backfire badly.


Depends. Branding works when you actually manage to maintain quality across a lineup.


And TV:s, fridges, computers... They manufacture more than just phones you know.


They don't dominate any market like they do Android phones. Are 90% of all fridges sold made by Samsung?


I disagree on some levels.

I think the amount of innovation and creativity that Google pushes for is amazing.

What if Checkout was the next big thing? At least they tried it and can put it in the history books now.

I do agree with point number 2, that they are making their services seem "legitimate" too quickly. Personally I would move them back to their Google Labs days to solve that problem. Where they would make a larger point of this service being in BETA and possibly not a long term goal.

From there if it passes BETA just streamline it, make it profitable, and keep it for as long as possible.

Perhaps that's what they're doing, but seeing a headline on HN every few days about "X Google Service Shutting Down" is incredibly disheartening and damaging to their brand, I agree completely on that one.

EDIT: The "Go Programming Language was first designed and developed at Google Inc." according to wikipedia. And we all love Go on HN. So it's hit and miss just like anything else, but godspeed to them for trying!


Not that I disagree with your basic premise but I wonder why some companies get away with this type of thing and others don't. Your example of Apple is an obvious one but they have plenty of "failures" on their hands as well. Whether it is something that is dead on arrival like Ping or the company letting one of its old marquee products die a slow death like the MacPro or iPod classic, Apple seems to be able to brush off these issues like no one else.


The services Apple kills are usually rubbish. Ping, Mobile Me, those iPod speakers. Google is killing things that are actually good. I think that is where the Reader backlash came from. Reader was good even if the relative popularity was low.

Hardware is kind of a different thing. The iPod was pretty nice. But now I want a shinier iPod with more features. Production of the Classic just has to match demand from those with niche uses for it. So a slow death makes sense?

Not sure what the situation is with the MacPro...


I think it's different when there're concrete numbers that the company can use to inform their decisions. Apple only does profitable things; if they kill a product, it's because it's no longer making them enough money.


I disagree. Google's recent efforts to narrow its focus (i.e. Google+, killing Reader) have been miserable failures. Being able to do 50 things at once, on the other hand, lets them come up with truly groundbreaking things like Glass and the self-driving car.


Google didn't exactly invent the self-driving car - they basically bought the Stanford team and some people from CMU and elsewhere.


> they basically bought the Stanford team and some people from CMU and elsewhere.

Also, the original impetus came from the DARPA grand challenge.

However, Google do deserve credit for recognising that self-driving cars could have a massive positive impact on society, and bringing the various team members under one roof and funding them would bring the concept from the research lab to the road a lot quicker. I bet many car makers have stepped up their self-driving cars efforts in response to the Google advances.

There's numerous companies and organisations that had the resources to bring the likes of Sebastian Thrun into their fold to work on self-driving cars, but Google were the ones with the vision to actually do it.


This seems to be a mistake that a ton of startups make as well. It's a result of indecisive (read:poor) management and inevitably leads to doing nothing particularly well.

One company that I've seen not fall into this trap is Dropbox. Dropbox offers one amazing service and pours all it's efforts into that, and from what I hear they have some insanely smart people working there doing that. As a result they can afford to decline a $6 billion offer from Google and then go on to compete against Google's inferior offering.


Question. Do you actually use Dropbox ? Because for me it is one of the most overrated services I use. They haven't actually done anything new to the product since the beginning and the CPU load when syncing is still ridiculously high.

IMHO The only reason Dropbox is successful because the alternatives e.g. SkyDrive, Google Drive are so much worse.


If you don't mind me asking, how is Drive much worse? I agree about Dropbox, but I don't think Drive is any worse. If anything the experience I've had with it has been more positive for the simple fact that it integrates with the existing google services I use a lot better (i.e. attachments in gmail). But I don't think it would be fair for me to hold that against Dropbox. Additionally, I haven't had much time with the OSX Drive client, as I work mostly in windows currently, but that seems to work fine as well.

The biggest gripe I've had with anything Drive-related, has been Google's 'Keep' losing some data from notes I made on my phone while I had a tab open with Keep on my laptop. Apparently my phone didn't get a chance to sync properly before I touched my computer again, so it just totally discarded everything I did on my phone. That was annoying, but it's not really something I associate with Drive specifically, since it still seems like an experimental side project they could potentially kill off at any point.


Some time ago I replaced my HDD with an SSD. I copied all my data over (including metadata). Everything pretty much worked as before, although I had to log into Dropbox and Google Drive again.

Dropbox then continued to index all my files and verify that my Dropbox folder was properly synchronized with the server side of things.

Google Drive, however, told me to delete my Google Drive folder and download all my files again.

Since I had a lot of files in there I proceeded by deleting Google Drive and canceling my paid storage instead.


As I mentioned below Google Drive loses data and is unacceptably buggy. Just see the product forums for the countless examples of it happening.

I see no reason why you wouldn't go with Dropbox. Even just for the fact that you shouldn't rely on anything from Google that doesn't have or is related to advertising.


Does it really matter that it isn't tied to Google's ad ecosystem if it has its own revenue stream (paid plans for increased storage)? I know everyone's been a bit shaken up with google's flurry of closures, but this isn't like reader, it's actually being monetized. Not to mention that Google recently consolidated Gmail and Picasa/G+ photo storage into Drive accounts -- this hints that google's long-term plan might be to treat Drive like a sort of unified storage system. This makes sense given google's recent push to unify everything, and should ensure it some stability. If anything, it's more likely that they'll kill off Chrome OS/Chromebooks (which heavily rely on Drive) before they kill off Drive[1], so I feel relatively safe with it. I would go so far as to say that Dropbox feels just as safe because Google isn't exactly a competitor that should be underestimated (despite their many flops).

Either way, I use Docs way too much, to the point where I always have a tab with it open, and Drive really ties everything in quite smoothly for me. I also like the Drive app a bit more than the Dropbox app on my android phone, so not really a strong incentive for me to switch back. I actually never made much of a conscious decision to switch to Drive in the first place, it just kind of happened automatically due to convenience, and now I use it almost exclusively.

The only thing that does bug me is the data-loss. I haven't had it happen in Drive proper, but it happening in the short time I've used Keep certainly lends credibility to it being a wider-spread problem. We'll see...

[1] Not that I feel ChromeOS is 'safe' from the killswitch, but it's still a bit too early to tell what their plan is for that exactly


The Drive client on my Mac would constantly hang. I actually just uninstalled it.


I use Dropbox every day. It just works. I don't need anything new from them, I'm perfectly fine with product that just works. Contrary to popular opinion, most people aren't 5-year-olds with short attention span, that constantly need something new to not get bored. They are busy people with little time to spare, and once they found something that works for them, they'd rather it keep working than search for something "new" that may or may not be useful for them.


Yes I use it and love it.

>IMHO The only reason Dropbox is successful because the alternatives e.g. SkyDrive, Google Drive are so much worse.

Thank you for partially restating what I wrote in my comment.


It's overrated, but all the other competing services are much worse? I'm confused.


Those aren't conflicting statements. If SkyDrive is 5 points worth of good, and Dropbox is widely rated 30 but "actually" a 10, then it's overrated but still better than the competition.


They do seem to be adding lots to Dropbox but I don't get the worship myself. Sugarsync offered me exactly what I wanted that Dropbox didn't and I never looked back.


Other than the frustrating lack of a linux client, how is drive inferior to dropbox?


Google Drive on the Mac anyway is a buggy, intolerable mess. I've lost data. I've experienced hard crashes on startup, during syncing and on exit. You only have to look on the product forums to get an idea. Data loss is simply inexcusable.

http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!categories/drive/rep...


For me at least the Windows client was incredibly buggy and unstable. I probably installed and uninstalled it a dozen times over several month trying to fix various problems before giving up on it. Search around the internet indicated that I was far from alone in having problems. Dropbox on the other hand has never crashed on me (on any platform) as far as I can remember.

I also thought Dropbox's Android client was better.


There is linux client here https://www.dropbox.com/install?os=lnx


I was talking about drive not having a linux client (not an official one at least).


4) It annoys the people who do use your product especially if they were already happy with it. Chances are they were the early adopters and evangelists. Their voices are what leads to #2 amplifying the actions.


> 1) Constant experiments and dropped products (just like Microsoft).

> 3) The services you do have aren't the highest quality and your brand takes a hit as being "giant mediocre corporation" like Microsoft instead of "high quality company" like Apple.

Yes, Apple never creates duds; we are all happily using our Newton.


And Ping. :)


Yes, but they're constantly iterating, reviewing, and consolidating. While I agree that Google is tangling itself in many products, I don't think it's going the route of Windows. I enjoy using Google products; I can't say the same for MSoft.


And now I have to work harder to avoid PayPal.

I think I'm going to start looking into my email setup, just in case.


I think it's more the opposite. Google, hyped up on IPO endorphins and VC DNA went out and tried to conquer the world, despite not having a distinct advantages in the businesses it was getting into. The results have been lackluster in many cases (but not all). They probably overdid it. Good on them for realizing that and putting a bullet in some of these efforts. Many companies don't have the courage to do that.


Yes, but it seems to me like they are trying to correct those issues quickly.


That comment reads more like reflex than anything with much thought put behind it: "Google is closing a service; Google is the new Microsoft" that old tired cliche.

First of all it's far form an unexpected announcement seeing as they have been developing another payment service in parallel, and second "monopoly" is a specific legal term, it shouldn't thrown around lightly, it's not just another synonym for "big".

As for your points:

1) Experimentation is net positive, and by definition most of said experiments will fail. You can't really be any sort of a self respecting tech company if you shun experimentation.

2) This is anecdotal, they have a selection of core products and when a peripheral one gets deprecated it's done through a reasonable process as spelled out in that post.

3) That's subjective.


That comment reads like reflex than anything with much though put behind it: "Google is closing a service", "Google is new the Microsoft" the same tired cliche.

First of all it's far form an unexpected announcement seeing as they have been developing another payment service in paralleled, and second "monopoly" is a specific legal term, it shouldn't thrown around lightly, it's not just another synonym for "big".

As for your points:

1) Great things could come out from experimentation so it's a new positive and by definition most of those experiments will fail, you can't really be any sort of a self respected tech company if you shun experimentation.

2) This is anecdotal, they have a selection of core products and when a preferential one gets deprecated it's done through a reasonable process as spelled out in that post.

3) That's subjictive.


There's Google Wallet and recently I'e purchased LastPass premium using that, outside Google's shops I mean. So, they just thought it's better to have either of the two - Checkout or Wallet.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: