Innovation from Google is now almost dead.

This morning I received an infographic from Venngage depicting the highest and lowest of Google and I couldn’t resist adding my two pennies worth of wisdom.  Thanks to that useful graph you can actually take a helicopter view of the situation, demonstrating what I have been telling everyone for the last couple of years or so: innovation, at least from Google, is dead. OK I may be exaggerating a little, but if you take a look at 2008 you will see that there was an enormous buzz created by the launch of Android and the establishment of Chrome as a browser first and then a fully fledged operating system.  Yet eight years down the line all you can see is a great deal of product variants, interspersed by a number of experiments, mostly ditched.heart-cardiogram

I know that Google likes to trumpet its advances on projects like driverless cars and such likes, but we all know that these ventures will matter very little to many of us today or next year.  Who knows when driverless cars will become a reality, it could be ten or twenty years from now, but in the meantime we are still plodding on with what we have got in terms of day to day applications and our phones just continue to run out of battery even faster.

I would go even further.  Over the last three years or more we have seen a service degradation online and on mobile applications too.  Web pages have bloated, being filled by mainly junk like ads and similar, see this interesting report on the average page weight if you don’t believe me.  Big companies have gone to the nth degree to create barriers even where there weren’t any. Whenever they spotted a competitor their main concern has been to acquire them and then, almost always, shut them down.  Take Yammer, bought by Microsoft and now languishing.  Sunrise, once an excellent cross-

Sunset, not sunrise

Sunset, not sunrise

platform calendar,  has been the latest victim and it has now basically ceased to be, being ‘incorporated’ into Outlook.   Where you were once able to create some order and got apps to talk to each other you are now asked instead to download and install separate ones, all eating into your mobile’s processing power, memory and battery, and all vying for your attention without offering you very much at all in return (indeed in many case you are ‘paying’ by parting with some of your personal data used for marketing purposes).

Back to Google, I would like it very much for example if its Assistant instead of thinking of eventually running my car or even my home, understood that I was on a fast train to Edinburgh and not grossly exceeding the speed limit in my car, or that I didn’t have to leave the office at a certain hour when on holiday, simply because my work calendar can’t sync with my personal one.  It’s pretty basic stuff, but essential and therefore intrinsically boring to boffins and marketers.

So where next?  I don’t think any of the software giants out there have a great desire to offer joe public interoperability and really make life easier for all of us.  Despite the hype, once companies grow to the humongous sizes of Google or Microsoft they soon forget all the passion and vibrancy they had at the start and quickly get ruled by beancounters who adopt the same old fashioned business development and customer service models they are comfortable with.  After all a prestige project can create global buzz (Branson knows a thing or two about that…) this raises media awareness and with it the price of shares too. Why bother with tedious end users when you can simply continue to print money at will with just with a bit of glitz and glamour?

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Are you mobile?

I don’t often rave about webinars (for one thing there are too many these days) but the one organised by The Marketer today on mobile marketing was excellent as it brought together a selection of highly professional experts, with a good overview of strategies and tactics.

A few facts about mobile

So what are the key facts, at least the few I can recall?  Well unsurprisingly there is a greater degree of interest than ever among marketers on mobile technology, but this isn’t accompanied by action,  mainly due to lack of budgets and time.  While the first may be understandable the latter though is a much more worrying trend.  You simply must find time for mobile marketing strategies if you’re a professional marketer.  And as for money, please, use some of the data freely available in the CIM site for example to show your boss or your board that there are now more mobile devices in use than people and that’s really where your company should be, unless they wanted to spend the next five years playing catch up with savvier competitors.

Plan from mobile to web

From CIM presentation

From CIM presentation

There were interesting tactical aspects covered too, such as the position of navigation elements on mobile devices, but to my eyes the most apposite remark was the one made by John Campbell of Precedent that you should really plan from mobile to web, rather than the reverse as most companies still do now.  

Sally of Codecomputerlove (what a great name for a company – I’d really like to know how the thought of it!) then presented some truly imaginative examples of well designed web sites that integrated with mobile marketing tactics.  I was particularly taken by the behindthebrands one for Oxfam.  But fundamental to her presentation (and indeed to those of all the other speakers too) is the concept that you should never lose sight of the real reasons for doing something.  Don’t just build a mobile version of your web site because you feel like it, or an App just because it’s the ‘in’ thing to do – understand your audience and set some measurable objectives, then act accordingly.

In conclusion…

Just as it often happens in new trends there were many more questions left unanswered as the time was limited and, well the webinar could have easily extended overnight… It was also relatively easy to detect that there is still confusion on some fundamental issues behind mobile marketing, with key areas still not totally understood even by marketers. The whole field of Apps is one of them and many clients, especially B2B ones, are even less au fait with these solutions than marketers, so there is a very steep learning curve ahead for many.

The truth is that communication technology is racing ahead at breakneck speed.  In the process some applications will come and go (take QR codes for example), others will remain or morph into new ones.  A combination of passion for innovation, market knowledge and common sense (see the comments on objectives for example) will always help you select the best approach for your company.