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Google logic: why Google does the things it does the way it does

13/07/2013 14:11

Puzzled about why Google closes successful products such as Reader while backing others such as self-driving cars? A former Apple and Palm executive explains.
Michael Mace is co-founder of Zekira, and author of Map The Future, a book on how to create better business strategies. He was previously chief competitive office and vice-president of competitive planning at Palm. His work before that included time at Apple as director of worldwide customer & competitive analysis and director of Macintosh Platform Marketing. This post is republished from his blog with permission.
A favourite pastime among people who watch the tech industry is trying to figure out why Google does things. The Verge was downright plaintive about it the other day, and I get the question frequently from financial analysts and reporters. But the topic also comes up regularly in conversations with my Silicon Valley friends.
It's a puzzle because Google doesn't seem to respond to the rules and logic used by the rest of the business world. It passes up what look like obvious opportunities, invests heavily in things that look like black holes, and proudly announces product cancellations that the rest of us would view as an embarrassment. Google's behaviour drives customers and partners nuts, but is especially troubling to financial analysts who have to tell people whether or not to buy Google's stock. Every time Google has a less than stellar quarter, the issue surges up again.
As I wrote recently when discussing Dell, it's a mistake to assume there's a logical reason for everything a company does. Sometimes managers act out of fear or ignorance or just plain stupidity, and trying to retrofit logic onto their actions is as pointless as a primitive shaman using goat entrails to explain a volcano.
But in Google's case, I think its actions do make sense – even the deeply weird stuff like the purchase of Motorola. The issue, I believe, is that Google follows a different set of rules than most other companies. Apple uses "Think Different" as its slogan, but in many ways Google is the company that truly thinks differently. It's not just marching to a different drummer; sometimes I think it hears an entirely different orchestra.
Google's orchestra is unique because of three factors: corporate culture, governance, and personal politics. Let's start with the culture.

Source: https://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jul/09/google-android-reader-why