Have you heard of Dodgeball? Or Jaiku? Dodgeball was a location-specific social networking site Google acquired in 2005 and its co-founder Dennis Crowley left four years later and founded Foursquare, pretty much the same stuff that worked better.
Jaiku is a microblogging site that Google acquired in 2007, months after the birth of Twitter, which went on to have its own successful IPO. Dodgeball and Jaiku are symbolic of Google’s capacity for boo-boos.
New Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in his sober moments, is bound to ponder on what went wrong in its past.
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The overwhelming success of Google’s search engine, YouTube, Chrome browser and the Android mobile platform make the company invincible, but failures have been a regular fare, something, however, that the company with annual revenues close to $70 billion can take in its stride because of its awesome image and financial cushion.
Dodgeball is not the only failure in the social space, which is a jinx of sorts for the company.
Google Wave, which TechCrunch described as “part email, part Twitter and part instant messaging” was another bomb. Google Buzz, another social networking and microblogging tool, failed as well. Google Plus, a feeble reincarnation of such ventures, is limping along. And did we forget to mention Orkut, which could have been what Facebook became, but did not?
Google Glass is still going strong as a “big idea” but the technology is yet to mature. Google X’s most glamorous project yet is a self-driving car, and Larry Page will focus on such esoteric ventures.
Google X is also talking drone delivery (not new, considering Amazon’s plans). Google acquired smart appliances maker Nest last year. Page will be looking at this as well. Somewhere along the way, Google also acquired Motorola’s handset business, which it sold off to Lenovo last year.
There are too many irons in the fire – and scars for those who care to look harder. Pichai’s job will be to ensure that the bleeding to aid innovation is not too hard on the mother ship.
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