Google ambushed at CeBIT

Summary:The world's most adored tech company faced an unexpected string of criticism at its keynote during CeBIT last week.The conference hall was packed to capacity on day one of CeBIT to hear the search giant's vice president for enterprise, Dave Girouard, give his keynote.

The world's most adored tech company faced an unexpected string of criticism at its keynote during CeBIT last week.

The conference hall was packed to capacity on day one of CeBIT to hear the search giant's vice president for enterprise, Dave Girouard, give his keynote.

All in all it was a relatively interesting presentation. Delegates listened attentively as Girouard offered insight into the Google work culture, their products, and how they were being used by other organisations, such as Arizona State University.

So when Girouard opened up for questions you could've been forgiven for expecting an outpouring of love as hands shot up eagerly across the room.

But the first question must've surprised everybody.

"I think there is something you might want to add to your dog food list," said a particularly forthright AMP employee, referring to Girouard's mention of Google "eating its own dog food" by using its own applications in-house.

"And that is how actually difficult it is for members of the public or corporations to get hold of you at all."

Ms AMP was organising an innovation and thought leadership festival at the company and had been trying to contact Google about presenting.

She said Google had taken three months to reply to her inquiries.

"It's really extremely difficult to get hold of a human being at Google, or to get your e-mails responded to," she said.

"It seems that you're growing faster than what you can actually serve the market."

With everyone surprised, Girouard did well to recover.

"The amount of requests and such things probably does run ahead of our ability to keep up with them as you say," he conceded diplomatically.

"The profile is currently bigger than the amount of human people behind it."

He moved on to the next question. There was no respite there, either.

"I've got a critique of Gmail that may be a critique of Google," started an academic-sounding employee of Apex Systems.

Mr Apex then outlined how he'd spent around 90 minutes the previous night fiddling with Gmail for conditional searches (or sorting), such as by largest e-mail.

"Things like searches within Gmail are great if you want to search specifically on keywords, but searching on conditional type of search groups like ... what is the largest e-mail that I've got ... those are the things that Gmail doesn't seem to lend itself to," he said.

He then related his Gmail criticism to Google itself.

"And I'm wondering if part of the problem is you're focused so much on moving fast through the capabilities of new technology or new features that you're not looking backwards enough at the useability of the old features?"

Girouard must've been wondering what he'd walked into.

While unable to answer the question specifically (he's not in the Gmail team), Girouard said there was still "a lot coming in Gmail".

"We're still talking about an e-mail product that's three years old," he said.

"So in the grand scheme of technology it's still a relatively new product."

It also seems that in the grand scheme of publicity engagements, Google is still relatively new to choosing its audiences.

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, CEBIT, Google

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