Google employee: We don't 'get' platforms

Engineer Steve Yegge blasts search giant's inability to comprehend how to build out a platform that attracts developers, citing Google+ as example and labeling the social network a "knee-jerk reaction".

Google's credibility to stay relevant and compete in the social media sphere has been hit following a scathing blog post on its Google+ social networking site written by one of its engineers, Steve Yegge. In the post, he slammed the company for not able to "get" platforms unlike competitors such as Microsoft and Facebook, and called Google+ a "knee-jerk reaction" and "a study in short-term thinking".

Comparing Google with his previous employer, Amazon, as well as other notable IT companies such as Microsoft and Facebook, Yegge said the Internet giant does not understand how to build on the success of its product--the search engine--and develop a platform for developers to come onboard and create third-party apps.

"I was kind of hoping that competitive pressure from Microsoft and Amazon, and more recently Facebook, would make us wake up collectively and start doing universal services. Not in some sort of ad-hoc [manner], but in more or less the same way Amazon did it: all at once, for real, no cheating and treating it as our top priority from now on," he wrote in the blog post on his Google+ account.

However, he said the company does not see it his way and treats internal service-oriented architecture as a "pretty low" priority, even though he acknowledged there are a few teams who do treat the idea very seriously.

Yegge has since taken down the post, but the entire write-up is still available online after another Google+ user saved a copy of it and posted with his permission.

Google+ a "pathetic afterthought"
According to Yegge, Google+ is a "prime example" of Google's "complete failure" to understand platform building from the highest levels of executive leadership.

"The golden rule of platforms is that you eat your own dogfood. The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought. We had no API (application programming interface) at all at launch and last I checked, we had one measly API call," he stated.

An earlier ZDNet Asia report seem to corroborate Yegge's point on the search giant not practising what it preaches. Top Google executives are reportedly not avid users of the social platform. CEO Larry Page has only seven posts to his name, while Chairman Eric Schmidt and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond do not even have accounts. Schmidt has since joined the social network, according to a separate report on ZDNet Asia's sister site CNET.

Comparatively, the Google engineer said Microsoft is a strong proponent of the dogfood rule and that has been its culture for a whole generation.

Facebook is another positive example, Yegge pointed out.

"Facebook is successful because it built a great product. But that's not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because it built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work."

The executive said its Google+ team took a look at the market after Facebook cornered the social games arena and said "gosh, it looks like we need some games. Let's go contract someone to write some games for us".

"The problem is that we are trying to predict what people want and deliver it for them. You can't do that, not really. Not reliably. There have been precious few people in the world, over the entire history of computing, who have been able to do it reliably. Steve Jobs was one of them. We don't have a Steve Jobs here. I'm sorry, but we don't," he stated.

Yegge ended his blog post by qualifying his observations, saying that it's not too late for Google to change track. "But the longer we wait, the closer we get to being too late," he warned.