Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

Summary: Google's I/O developer conference kicks off Tuesday and expectations appear to be relatively low. Why? Product announcements out of I/O appear to be hit or miss. In fact, success or failure is basically a coin flip

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TOPICS: Google
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Google's I/O developer conference kicks off Tuesday and expectations appear to be relatively low. Why? Product announcements out of I/O appear to be hit or miss. In fact, success or failure is basically a coin flip.

My plan was to look at previous I/O announcements and examine how things turned out. Danny Sullivan beat me to it and has a handy recap. Here's the rough breakdown:

  • In 2008, Google used I/O to talk about Gears, Android, Google Friend Connect and Google App Engine. Gears and Friend Connect are toast. Android was a big win and App Engine is a work in progress. One enterprise software insider recently noted that Google breaks out App Engine once a year at I/O, talks it up and then forgets about it. Whether that perception of App Engine is accurate or not remains to be seen, but that take is telling.
  • In 2009, Google introduced Google Wave. Developers thought it was great. No one else did. Wave was killed.
  • Last year, Google used I/O to talk WebM, the video encoding format. WebM won YouTube and the jury is out beyond that. Google also talked the Chrome Web Store---an occasionally handy tool, but not a world beater. Google also showed off some voice recognition---a clear win on the mobile front---and Google TV. Google TV also got folks excited at first, but then the interface bombed with consumers. The search giant also talked about a music service, which has yet to appear officially.

With that track record is it any wonder that folks aren't expecting much? If you go back into the archives, it's almost comical how technology's chattering class gushes and then retreats or drops the follow-up entirely. In 2009, Sam Diaz noted that developers gave Wave a standing ovation. Oops. Diaz said that Wave had a chance, but the learning curve was steep. My former partner in crime was also highly conflicted about Google TV---which was a revolution that later needed to go back to the drawing board. Maybe it's the keyboard.

That progression is common with Google's flagship developer conference. Euphoria followed by buzz, then backlash and then a thud.

Looking at Google's session topics clearly revolve around Android---the search giant's best horse beyond search. One key session will be Honeycomb Highlights. If I were to be a total cynic I'd have to ask "what highlights?" Google didn't give Honeycomb a lot of app support out of the gate when it could have launched a kick-butt Google Docs. Honeycomb more often than not is viewed as the weak link in the Android tablet army. Will Google address Honeycomb's issues---which revolve around stability and third party apps? Or will Google do what Microsoft did with Vista and blame problems on perception? If Google isn't careful Honeycomb may become its Vista.

Another Android topic revolves around NFC (near field communications). Google, local, commerce and NFC could be compelling.

Chrome, Commerce and App Engine are also session tracks worth noting. It's also worth noting that those three categories---with the exception of Chrome---are sort of middling in the momentum department.

Google Apps will also be worth noting. The offering is at an interesting juncture---momentum continues and competition surges just as news attention wanes. For Google that's good news. The same buzz-to-mundane cycle happened with Linux too. Now you can't find a data center without some percentage of Linux implemented.

In addition, the Geo track is worth watching---if only because of all the hubbub around location tracking.

Add it up and Google has an interesting set-up for this I/O. Expectations are low and that means Google has a nice environment to surprise a few of us.

Topic: Google

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  • Good analysis of Google failures. But, smart for Google to keep at it. For

    venture capitalists, if they can get one home run in ten swings, they are very happy. Google needs to look at it that way too. Well, they can also keep swinging, as with Tablets, AppEngine, and GoogleTV, and might yet hit it out of the park with one of those.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

      @DonnieBoy

      Also, there's no reason why past failures can't be incorporated in future developments elsewhere. I'm sure the functionality in Wave will pop up somewhere else eventually. I also think it would have been better received if it had been an extension of GMail rather than a seperate service.
      OffsideInVancouver
      • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

        @OffsideInVancouver
        I think they were overconfident with Wave, where they decided to have it driven by invitations, when they had to throw it open to all. They decided to exclude IE for running Wave, meant half of their target audience was already out. Biggest issue seemed to me the lack of any relevant use case for it.
        mm71
      • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

        @OffsideInVancouver
        "Also, there's no reason why past failures can't be incorporated in future developments elsewhere."

        Or future failures. I feel that if Google wanted a brighter future they would develop better product offerings and not be as much of the half assed products they offer now. Mind you they have some functional offerings but they are half baked at best. There is nothing that has been seen as a true full fledged product but then again everything they offer is through the cloud and can only be loaded so fast and even then they have no real true base to stand on whereas other companies have been developing software for ages. They should focus more on their strong products and look into how to make them stable and offer more rich features. Good Luck Google... Oh and stop invading peoples privacy!
        audidiablo
      • "developers gave Wave a standing ovation"

        LOL. Mass koolaid drowning.
        LBiege
      • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

        @audidiablo

        I think because all of their stuff is cloud-based they find the temptation to release products very hard to resist - they're easy to deploy and being ad-supported it's all about getting eyeballs on the screen. The result of this is the "see what sticks" approach,

        Microsoft by comparison have tons of research projects that could be deemed as "failures" because they don't directly lead to anything, the only difference is they keep it in-house whereas Google put theirs public.

        As I said in my original post though, just because a company (any company) fails with one product doesn't mean that the nuts and bolts of it don't end up surfacing elsewhere.
        OffsideInVancouver
      • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

        @OffsideInVancouver I always have low expectations for Google. Every ti<a href="http://vb.maas1.com/">m</a>e they put out a product it gets cancelled within 6 months. Its best advised to wait those 6 mon<a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/">t</a>hs before using that technology to see if its still around.
        alasiri6
    • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

      @DonnieBoy Just changed from the Milestone to the Droid X - still happy as a clam with the OS. Soon to buy another tablet with Honeycomb. I'm sure I'll love that too. It's all about the freedom I don't have with Apple for me. It's slowly catching on - give it time. Four out of five in my office are now on Android and two of us have sworn off Apple products for good after using Android. It is what it is. Once you use it, there's no going back.
      blueskip
  • I am hoping to hear more about Native Client and PNaCl.

    Those could be hot technologies going forward. Apple might use this kind of technology to help support OSX on Arm. It might be good for Apple and Google to collaborate a little here.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

      @DonnieBoy Wishful thinking.

      I hope they address Honeycomb and give us some closure on upcoming updates and fixes to help make it the OS it really should be. Anything else they talk about after that is all a bonus in my book (I am sure most of it will be useless fluff though).
      Bates_
      • You can bet that Google will be working overtime on fixing the problems

        with Android for the tablet market. It is a LOT more than a perception problem. But, if they can get PNaCl right, that could be huge for deploying desktop grade applications cross platform in a safe manner.
        DonnieBoy
    • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

      @DonnieBoy I expect to hear about Native Client, especially as Google have just took the security warnings of the canary version of chrome when Native Client is turned on.
      Knowles2
  • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

    @ DonnieBoy

    But don't you think that PNaCl could be hit or miss for Google? They are either going to do it right, or really wrong.
    Bates_
    • Exactly, the success of PNaCl is not a forgone conclusion. The idea is

      very good, let's see how the implementation goes, if it is really more secure, if it is solid.
      DonnieBoy
  • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

    From the write-up:<br>"...its almost comical how technologys chattering class gushes and then retreats or drops the follow-up entirely."<br><br>Bingo. It was clear from watching last years I/O stream that Google TV was NO WHERE NEAR READY, considering the plethora of technical problems that plagued the presentation. Yet, not more than 5 minutes after the presentation finished, Google News Sci-Tech section was bursting at the seams with articles about how Google TV would change the way we watch television. What a bunch of bull the tech "journalist" community pumps out.

    Add to that the hyperbole tech bloggers conjured up about a Moto Xoom not running any software (only videos) after CES, and the only conclusion one can make is that you guys are full of it.
    Delvardo
    • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

      @Delvardo
      I love my APPLE TV! best purchase ever!!
      Hasam1991
      • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

        @Hasam1991

        I love my Google TV.

        It's certainly not my best purchase ever. But it does make my friends who have Apple TV green with envy when they visit and see the things ATV can't even begin to do.
        keith.manning@...
    • Google will keep trying to get it right, but, you analysis is mostly

      correct!!!!!
      DonnieBoy
      • RE: Google I/O: Spotty product launch history mutes expectations

        @DonnieBoy

        How do we know they will keep trying? They certainly did not keep trying with Wave and other failed ventures. Maybe they will do the same to GoogleTV, pull the plug.
        dave95.
      • dave95: Pulling the plug on GoogleTV is always a possibility, but, I think

        this is one that is very key to Google's youtube service, and also search. They could pull the plug on the current incarnation, and try something completely different, but, they will almost certainly keep trying.
        DonnieBoy