culture of technological obesity

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amazon handmade

Everyone loves Amazon. Mostly, everyone. We all feed at the Amazon trough. I bought twice from them yesterday. Once, only to find out the non-Prime product would be delivered in close to a month — which I then cancelled — and a second time a few minutes later when the same product popped up with free delivery in 2 days.

Amazon is loveable, but beginning to make some enemies. With its launch yesterday of Amazon Handmade, direct competitor of Etsy, it made some unfriends. I once accused Google of a “culture of technological obesity.” Amazon, seems to on track for a culture of retail obesity. Why? Because it can. In March Amazon added Amazon Home Services, to compete with Angie’s List and others. Amazon Business, nee Amazon Supply, is an effort to compete with MSC Direct, Grainger and Global Supply. More unfriends.

And let’s not even get into margins. If you sell a product on Etsy to give them 3.5% of sales, plus a minimal listing charge. If you sell on Amazon Handmade you give up 12%.

These new business segments will indeed make extra m/billions for Amazon. But it’s a technology play. Etsy owns the heart. Angie’s List owns the heart. Amazon needs to stay away from retail gluttony. Remember Amazon, business people are consumers when they go home. Don’t go overboard on your overdog status.


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Google’s “culture of technological obesity” reared its really big head yesterday and the company in early 2012 will be getting into the hardware business — following its intention announced yesterday to buy Motorola Mobility.  We’re not talking a nail salon breaking out pumice stones and getting into the foot care business, were talking about a software company buying manufacturing plants, accountants to manage depreciation, thousands of other-continent employees, and then playing the materials engineering,  just-in-time game.  No Beta release here.  No limited invites here.  (I don’t know how Apple does it, frankly.)

This is one bold, bold move. And there’s no reason it shouldn’t work.  There are hundreds of reasons it shouldn’t work, but no one reason.  The justice department had better staff up me droogies.

Unless someone comes along and proves that mobile computing causes brain or pituitary cancer, mobile computing is here to stay and with one company owning the OS, device, search and funding (advertising), it feels like quite the monopoly.  And don’t think Larry Page doesn’t have his eye on Sprint or Metro PCS. Google can eat. And eat. And think. And plan. And spend. This is going to be one wild planet-changing ride! If there was a global, publically traded law firm, I’d say buy stock today. Peace!

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Someone Tweeted yesterday about Google+, so I followed the link and watched a couple of tutes.  My first impression on the Is-Does was that it’s an advanced like button.  Then I noted something called Google Circles, which was one of the tutorials grouped in the total offering labeled Google+ Project.  So Google Plus has grown into a project, which is kinda cool and offers leeway to do a number of things without completely committing.

I love the idea of Google Circles, with its drag-and-drop community grouping interface.  It seems a nice foil to the Facebook mass post approach.  But I was still in like button land and wasn’t quite sure how the circle platformed.  The app felt transformative and exciting, but then I had to go to work.

Today I’m reading that the Google+ Project might be a social network.  A Facebook killer? We all know how Google Buzz turned out as a social networking platform (over ambitious and over engineered). It was another example of the company’s culture of technological obesity. But this project seems like it might be on to something. The ballast for me is Circles. Luckily, I haven’t aged since high school, though a number of people with whom I treaded the halls have. Having friended them on Facebook, I would not know them to meet them so the need to cull does have its place.

That said, culling can be very high school and it’s not what the web is all about. Facebook Groups is a way to cull, but it doesn’t feel exclusionary. It’s a good feature.  I need to spend more time with Google Circles (the mobile portions are brilliant) before really weighing in.  My feeling is that there is something powerful here, but Google needs to remember why it exists as it moves the +Project forward.  Not to kill Microsoft. Not to kill Fotchbook.  To deliver the world’s information in one click. Exciting Peace!

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In the tech category, moving to the middle is what the revenue hungry do. Rather than perfect what they are, they see money and desire an expansive make-over.  Google’s culture of technological obesity has driven it to invest $100 million dollars in new content for YouTube.  Being king of search is not enough; now it wants to be the next video TV station.  Google suspects there will be licensing issues for playing other people’s content and so wants to create and enable new video content to drive traffic.  As we all know, public access programming and 9.5 out of 10 consumer generated videos are deathly boring.  $100M should help bring in some creativity and will work for a while, but is a poor investment.

Case two: Twitter is talking about creating brand fan pages so they can hit some of that advertising revenue.  Misfire.  They, too, are moving toward the muddled middle; a place Facebook with its fan pages and Likes is filling. Twitter needs to let brands Tweet their stories and value, leaving the undifferentiated fan pages to others.

The thing that made the iPhone take off is application developers.  What will make Twitter accelerate is also application developers – but marketing application developers, and here’s a secret: Twitter is so easy to use and so much of the work is done (read hashtags) that non-coders will be the app developers on Twitter.  Twitter will win many of the marketing wars, it just has to stop moving toward the middle and let the apps evolve.

Why do all technology companies covert thy neighbor’s partner? Love the one your with.  Peace!


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The intro to The New York Times article today on the impending purchase of Groupon by Google says the motivation for their move is to “dominate” local online advertising and improve its play in social networking.  These two things may be results but, for me, they are byproducts.  Google never set out to be an advertising company, it was born of search. Search and arithmetic are its lifeblood. Like farmers hundreds of years ago who were good at farming then became king, search is what made Google a powerhouse.

That’s why I liked the purchase of YouTube. Google made is easy to search for video. This is why I like the move on Groupon. Talk about apps?  Couponing is a zillion dollar marketing application — and if Google sets it sights on making couponing more effective and efficient, it will completely change that market.

You may have read here before about Google’s “culture of technological obesity” and how that culture has driven the company to offer productivity software (work processing, spreadsheet, etc.), a mobile phone, an new OS and and and. These efforts have been off- piste (Is it snowing yet?) and the reason Google will trivest in less than a decade.  So I’m not a Google fanboy — but they deserve much respect for this move.  This is mad max stuff.  Now, stay away from my television until you are ready to provide a truly useable search product and we’re good. Peace!

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Twitter owned real time updates. Facebook mirrored it. AOL owned chat. Facebook copied it. Google owned search.  Facebook morphed it.  Foursquare developed check-ins.  Facebook parroted it. And Groupon owned coupon search. Facebook Places has mimicked it. 

I worked at a social media start-up (Zude) for a tech savant who wanted to out-YouTube YouTube, out-DoubleClick DoubleClick and out-MySpace MySpace. What he had – what we had – was the “fastest, easiest way to build and manage a website,” supported by a unique drag-and-drop technology.  Sadly, the CTO didn’t want to perfect usability, rather, he wanted to be the best at everything. Hence, we were the best at nothing. 

I’ve written about Google and its “culture of technological obesity” and it seems Facebook now is sharing that affliction.  You can’t be everything to everybody.  Do something well, stick to it, prefect it, then evolve it. But don’t keep stealing other people’s cheese.

The more Facebook moves toward the middle of “all” web functionality the more overweight it becomes. My advice: Focus…and let other companies play too. Peace!

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Google, the most successful, exciting brand in technology and consumerdom is at a crossroads. Its culture of technological obesity (sitting on a lot of tech calories) has it on the verge of creating a social networking property intended to wrest control of that category from Facebook.  Eric Schmidt is a very smart man.  He made many investors lots of money as CTO at Sun Microsystems, leading he team that developed Java software among other things. He saw what happened to Sun after his departure when innovation lagged and he doesn’t want that to happen to Google, the company for which he is now CEO.


Fall forward fast is sound business advice but its best done when following a focused mission. Google’s mission (We deliver the world’s information in one click) is not what social networking is all about. As the Web gets bigger and more tangled — like kudzu in Georgia – it will be harder, not easier, to find the stuff we want. Owning search is still huge and will become more so.  Worldwide pricing. Finding people. Finding the right content. Finding geolocated mobile phones. Finding video. Audio bits. This (and then some) is what Google and its next gen technologists need to be developing. Why are they focusing on Facebook?  Search me. Peace!

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I’ve written before about Google’s “culture of technological obesity” saying I think the company is taking on too much outside of its core mission.  Phones, productivity apps, the list goes on and on. The reality is — the dirty little secret no employee will readily admit — is Google is an advertising company.  (Google Doubleclick.)  Eric Schmidt and his peeps know this but it doesn’t play well at cocktail parties. The technology badge is what they wear most proudly.

Of the $6.78B in revenue announced this quarter, the lion’s share was ad generated.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love Google.  I’m not a hater. They need to succeed.  Google really is changing the world for the better. But they will Divest or Trivest at some point.  The company is a 3-ring business circus.  And because one of the rings — most profitable ring – is advertising, and because Google hasn’t been putting all of its efforts into providing innovation in advertising, it will lose market share. Ad revenue will still grow, but Google will lose market share. My bet is Facebook and Twitter will take share. Facebook is already doing it and Twitter has just begun.

 Advertising is about search, yes, but also about referral and context and point of sale (POS).  Twitter may have a leg up by combining all four.  To all the developers at Chirp…advertising still is da monies!  Peace!

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