Google and the “Me Too” Fallacy

Today Google launched Google Drive.

Yippee?

The thing is, I don’t care. I’m so entrenched in Dropbox, and busy with life that I just quickly glanced at Macstories’ coverage on it and moved on. Nothing in there was compelling enough to get me to switch.

There used to be a day where a company would launch a product, then someone else would launch a drastically better version a few years later. Today it feels like the awesome product gets launched, and then the other companies rush to copy it with a half-baked solution that fades away over time.

Google used to be an exciting company. I remember trying Google Search for the first time and being mesmerized. I think before then I was just browsing site directories on Yahoo. Gmail completely changed the game on email. I remember how giddy I was when my friend got an invite and passed one along to me to try it out.

Somewhere between then and now, Google lost that luster.

Maybe it was Google+? Android? Every product Google is rolling out today feels like a “me too” of everyone else. They’ve lost their sense of purpose and started chasing profits. It’s like the Google Wave débâcle scared them into rolling out “safe” products.

I don’t think it has anything to do with being an ad company. They’ve been an ad company all along. Google has stopped solving user problems, and started solving their own problems (namely attracting eyeballs).

When discussing this over a fire drill at work, a friend asked me “what is Google’s purpose?” It’s a good question: what is Google’s goal? They already have the fastest search engine, the best email platform. What more could they build?

Every company needs a purpose. The core reason why they do what they do. I thought Google had an amazing one:

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Okay, sure, letting Google index all the files on my hard drive is letting them organize the world’s information. But there is a nobler goal to strive for with that mission. Not cute “me too” technologies, but a huge goal that they originally started solving with their core search technology.

Everything since then has felt like it’s about getting eyeballs for the search technology, and not helping enhance the world’s ability to access information.

I plead, tech companies, especially the big ones: please stop trying to roll out “me too” gimmicky version of each other. Really, we don’t need another social network, photo editing app, or reading later service. There are bigger problems in the world to be solved.

Move on, build something unique, and change the world. Don’t give us another way to store our files in the cloud.

April 24, 2012