Marissa Mayer, dubbed by Business Week as Google’s “31-year-old product-launch czar,” likes to “launch products early and often” and believes:
That has become my mantra…Apple Computer, Madonna...Nobody remembers the Sex Book or the Newton. Consumers remember your average over time. That philosophy frees you from fear," as quoted by Business Week.
While Mayer’s media spin on Google’s strategy of regularly releasing new products and services as “betas” and “limited tests” and “lab projects” is to characterize the company as “fearless,” Google’s “top brass” new product-reviews are most likely shrewd.
Google enjoys an unprecedented public good will and it manages that valuable asset keenly. Google is highly secretive and does not provide meaningful responses to press inquiries. Nevertheless, Google’s infrequent, but targeted, announcements routinely receive massive, and generally overwhelmingly positive, cost-free press coverage worldwide.
Google leverages its influence on the media to save hundreds of millions of dollars in product launch marketing expenses and to gain the interest of the world’s biggest free focus group, Google users.
According to Mayer:
We believe that we should be launching more products than what will ultimately become phenomenally popular. The way you find really successful new innovation is to release five things and hope that one or two of them really take off…We should be able to put products out there and, without a lot of promotion, a good product will grow. We like to put products out there early, see what users say about them, what additional features they'd like to see, and then build those out.
We'd rather put something out on Labs, have it be a little bit low-profile and grow by word of mouth. That gives the team a little bit more time to scale with the requirements. Also, it gives us some very important indications about whether or not this product fills a core need well, how big the market is, and also how strong our product is relative to others.
In addition to cost free marketing, publicity and user experience data, Google’s go-to-market via the media and via users strategy, provides Google with an easy out for those product and services that do not gain traction.
According to Mayer:
I think the core underpinnings of what we're doing make a lot of sense. That said, there certainly are some products that we've released that aren't market leaders and may never be. We anticipate that we're going to throw out a lot of products. People won't be able to remember them all, but they will remember the ones that really matter and the ones that have a lot of user potential.