Google: Fighting wars on too many fronts?

The key mantra of brand building is positioning. Plant a flag in a product/service category on the consumer’s mind map. Every enterprise has to work hard everyday to tighten its focus in an effort to plant the category ownership flag.

Google became Google because of it’s fantastic positioning. They were THE search engine. However, with every passing minute they seem to be broadening their focus – and bit-by-bit they are chipping away the foundation of their strong brand.

Every passing minute it is becoming harder to answer the question – “What is Google?

  • Is it a search engine? Yes
  • Is it a news aggregater – Yes
  • Is it an advertising platform – Yes
  • Is it a platform for software developers to build applications – It seems so, Yes
  • Is it a book archive – Yes but I have never found a full book. If I have to read excerpts, I would rather go to Amazon, the experience is much better.
  • Is it a comparison shopping service? – Yes, isn’t that what Froogle is? But why does it have the same interface as Google Search?
  • Is it a photo sharing portal? – Yes; but I like Flickr better
  • Is it a smart phone? – Yes; but from what I have heard it’s nothing like the iPhone
  • Is it an OS vendor? – Yes; I heard it is; but not sure how good their OS will turn out to be; the early reviews are mixed.
  • Is it a Blogging Service provider? – Yes; but it’s pretty bland. There are better ones out there, like WordPress.
  • Is it an email service provide? – Yes; and a damn good one at that!

Google is trying to extend it’s brand beyond advisable limits. It’s becoming unclear what Google is, as it is becoming unclear who Google’s main competitors are. It seems to be fighting wars on too many fronts at the same time – even going to the extent of pissing of old friends like Apple and turning them into adversaries.

Whichever way Google goes, it will definitely make for a very interesting management case study in the years to come.



Filed under phantom management guru

3 responses to “Google: Fighting wars on too many fronts?

  1. Good post. They are extending the brand in every possible direction, but is it worth it. Most of the Google success is by company acquisitions. So far the most profitable or money minting platform is “Google adwords / Adsense platform”, acqiured from Applied Semantics.

    I believe when you have some excess capital you can extend it to too many ways, but burning the bridges is not good.

  2. phantombrain

    Hello lakkineni,

    Cannot agree with you more on the acquisitions front. Wikipedia on 1/20/2009 lists 59 acquisitions so far

  3. vinisinha

    Interesting discussion. I am late to the party here, but just came to know about your blog a few weeks back.

    Google once found the next big thing – ‘search’. And that made it big enough to make huge companies eat dirt (read yahoo, ms, etc. etc.) I think that the various diversification you mention are attempts at staying ahead of the curve so that it doesn’t meet the same fate as its competitors. They are attempts in finding the next big thing.

    Just like there are hundreds of failed tech start-ups in the valley for every one that hits the bulls-eye, google will probably have many failures before it comes up with the next big thing.

    They acquire, but it is pretty common for small companies to innovate and then wait to be bought out by biggies. Small companies can innovate, big companies can take them to the next level. So, that’s probably a good thing – Google acquiring technology – keeps the innovation incentive up for many.

    Re – your thoughts on google going beyond its brands advisable limits.. hmmm … are we discussing ‘strategy’ here.. 🙂 .. just kidding – this will make for interesting beer conversation 🙂


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