I found John Battelle’s astute analysis of Google’s earnings call pretty depressing:
The lead quote had to do with Google+, pretty much, not the company’s earnings, which ended up being a miss (Google is blaming fluctuations in foreign currency for much of that, and I have no idea whether that’s true, false, or silly).
But here’s my question: When is Google going to release actual engagement numbers for Google+? Because in the end, that’s all that really matters. As I have written in the past, it’s pretty easy to get a lot of people signing up for Google+ if you integrate it into everything Google does (particularly if you do it the way they’ve done it with search).
But can you get those folks to engage, deeply? That’d be a real win, and one I’d give full credit to Google for executing. After all, it’s one thing to get the horse to water…another to have it pull up a chair and share a few stories with friends.
Battelle's Search Blog is a prime source for thoughtful analysis of what Google is doing, and there’s more in the post, Google+: Now Serving 90 Million. But…Where’s the Engagement Data!.
I found it depressing not because Google missed its earnings numbers and the stock sank 9% overnight (I don’t own any, perhaps to my detriment), nor because they are playing fast and loose with business disclosures (hardly a surprise), but because it signals to me that Google’s push to force users into Google+ will only intensify.
And I don’t like that at all.
If Google continues its current strategy, Android and Google+ will wreck the company. Having “committed” itself to these battles with Microsoft, Apple, the cellular carriers, and Facebook, Google will continue throwing money, effort, and attention at them. It’ll tie its other, more legitimately successful products to them, bringing everything down to the same level of comparative mediocrity. It will draw regulatory attention and take regular PR hits. The company will be distracted and overcommitted when the true actual threat to its core business emerges. And the rest of us will suffer from Google’s hubristic folly.