Link: Inside Google's New-Product Process. Interesting interview at Business Week online with Marissa Mayer, the search giants 'product-launch czar'. Some of what she says makes perfect sense, while other things annoyed me a bit.
"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."
Well yeah, that's great and everything, and Google can do that. However, just how much more Googlecentric can you get? Basically what she seems to be saying here is that they're using their customers/users to point them in the right direction because they don't know themselves (which from what I've seen of their products other than search is actually right on the ball), but that they don't actually care overly about their customers. What about people who invest time, effort and money in using a Google product, only to find out down the line that it's not one of the phenomenally popular ones? Is Google just going to dump them by turning off the application one day, or get the user to dump them by not upgrading the product or improving it - and can we say 'Blogger.com' here?
We'd rather put something out on [Google's beta site] Labs... 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.
You mean that you don't *know* how strong your product is? Of course, no-one knows exactly, and I wouldn't expect them to, that would be stupid. However, if you're launching a product you need to know from the outset who it is aimed at, why it's aimed at that group, what the competition is, how your product has a USP and so on. Unless you're Google it would seem, since they have so much money sloshing around they can just do stuff and see what works and what doesn't. That's just such a sloppy approach!
I think it's pretty easy to imagine that if we removed the invitation model [for Gmail], we would see ten times as much demand. And if you do that calculation, we would be almost as large as Yahoo! or Hotmail.
So the reason that you've not done this is because...?
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.
And the people who have been using the products that you dump will probably remember those as well... though clearly Google isn't going to remember them in turn. Maybe it's just me, but this whole interview appears to be just boosting up Google and saying 'We expect our users to point things out to us, but we really don't actually care about them at all.' And that's just rather distasteful arrogance.