Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, February 12, 2010

Commercial: Why Google will *never* get social

So. Google Buzz.

Appears to be a bit of a damp squib.

Privacy problems. Email overload. Etc.

Another social media technology fail. After Wave.

Now, one fail in this space might count as carelessness.

Two begins to look like they don't get it.

(And no, the shared items function on Reader doesn't count. A highly anecdotal survey has shown that the only two people I know who use it actually live together. So that isn't a permissable case study.)

I have a theory as to why Google just can't successfully operate in this space.

It's not about people calling them out on making decisions against their ethics (though that might be part of it.)

It's not about them trying to play catch-up too quickly with people like Facebook.

It's about the fact that most of the people at Google are too clever to design social software tools.

What's the main reason why Buzz and Wave won't work?

They're too complicated to use.

Oh, sure they're easy to use if you're a software engineer or other genius working for Google.

But that's not everyone, is it?

I'm pretty sure Goog's social engineers just keep chucking more and more stuff in, all the while saying, 'That's cool! Somebody will want to play with that!'

And when it gets round to user testing, and they see people not being able to get their heads rounds where they should start, what function they should use first, I'll wager that behind the one-way mirror they start saying things like, 'Idiot! Can't you see that you just press Alt F4 and tab at the same time!'

(I've seen this happen in other focus groups with product engineers.)

The product engineers are so smart, they refuse to believe that people less smart than them might be using their products.

Trouble is, almost certainly 99.9% of the customer base won't be as smart as the person who invented it.

And so, when faced with the difficult option or the simple option, they'll choose simple.

Because it'll be the one that works for them.

And their friends.

Google just say, 'Well, our customers are smart. They'll figure it out.'

And yes, they are smart.

Smart enough to know when a product hasn't really been designed with them in mind.

And instead, has been designed to show off some engineer's cleverness.

That isn't being social. It's being stupid.

(I say *never*. Clever people have a habit of proving me wrong.)



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