Will Google fail… again?

If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.

Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s said. Google founders loved their search engine. Today Google seems to love money more than anything.

Google Catalogs, Google Answers, Google Wave and even the most recent, hyped up Google Buzz feature on a growing list of Google flops, with, on average, 200 projects that are being worked upon at any time at Google.

A seeming common denominator of all its failed attempts is its chase of existing and successful business models or competitors. Google Wave was to reinvent email; Google Buzz was to be a direct response to Twitter; Google Answers was to counter Yahoo! Answers and so on.

Since 2001, Google embarked on acquisition of middle and small size companies, in its bid to enhance the range of its services both vertically and horizontally. More than 80 acquired companies and 10 years later, yet its strategy, approach and mentality have hardly changed.

In a certain sense, Google stopped innovating. Many of its failures could be somewhat explained away by looking at how it tries to go about chasing others’ success. An enlightening interview with a Google exec revealed some crucial points –  scope of work, team size and usage of infrastructure, etc. – of how Google cannot, for example, build an Instagr.am equivalent.

And now Groupon. Google’s unsuccessful story of trying to buy it for USD 6 billion did not finish there. It now decided to come up with its own answer. A déjà vu?

Of course, Google did and does good things. Adwords, Adsense, Analytics, Android and its transformation of online advertising using acquired DoubleClick technology, have done and will continue bringing value to businesses and end users.

But, is the value offered by Google justified by the growing number and impact of its flops?

It all boils down to a company’s DNA. Google’s DNA is search, and it built around it, growing and becoming successful. Now it tries to “go out” of its DNA and diversify, not an unusual drive for a company of its size and track record. It needs t keep in mind, however, that similar attitude brought down other big and successful companies in the past. Instead, what it could do is to make its own search smarter and richer (in relevancy, targetting and search result contents).

The usual question that Google and other failed/successful entrepreneurs/businesses ask themselves daily is, “Should we Innovate or Copy?” The word “Innovation” became a cliché, despite the fact that innovation wars lead nowhere and hurt everyone.

Perhaps it is time we start to mInnovate.

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